The Second Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined defendant property owners (Monacos) did not have constructive notice of the deteriorated condition of a tree limb which fell on plaintiff’s car:
In cases involving fallen trees, a property owner will only be held liable for a tree that falls outside of his or her premises and injures another if he or she knew or should have known of the defective condition of the tree … . Constructive notice may be based upon signs of decay or other defects that are readily observable by someone on the ground or that a reasonable inspection would have revealed … . “At least as to adjoining landowners, the concept of constructive notice with respect to liability for falling trees is that there is no duty to consistently and constantly check all trees for nonvisible decay. Rather, the manifestation of said decay must be readily observable in order to require a landowner to take reasonable steps to prevent harm” … . * * *
The plaintiff’s expert’s affidavit failed to raise a triable issue of fact as to whether any visible defect or decay would have been readily observable by the Monacos prior to the fall of the limb … . Although the plaintiff’s expert concluded that there was visible decay at the top of the branch where it had been attached to the trunk, approximately 12 feet above grade, and that such decay caused the branch to fall, his conclusions were based upon close observation, and therefore, failed to raise a triable issue of fact as to whether the Monacos should have realized that a potentially defective condition existed … . Sasso v Village of Bronxville, 2022 NY Slip Op 05105, Second Dept 8-31-22
Practice Point: Here a tree limb fell on plaintiff’s car. Plaintiff’s expert concluded the tree limb was deteriorated, but only after close inspection of the limb. The expert evidence did not raise a question of fact about whether the property owner’s had constructive knowledge of the condition of the limb.