The First Department determined defendant security company’s (Sera’s) motion for summary judgment in this patient-assault case was properly denied. Plaintiff, a nurse at a healthcare facility, was assaulted by a patient. Sera argued it was only responsible for providing protection against intruders, not patients. Because the contract with Sera was ambiguous the court properly considered extrinsic evidence (deposition testimony) which indicated Sera responded to staff’s calls for help dealing with patient “altercations” or “fighting.” There were questions of fact whether plaintiff was a third-party beneficiary of the Sera’s contract with the facility and whether plaintiff detrimentally relied on Sera to protect her from the assault. Questions of fact about Sera’s duty to plaintiff and the foreseeability of the assault were raised:
Given [the] testimony and the contractual language, the motion court properly denied summary judgment on the issue of whether defendant is liable to plaintiff as a third-party beneficiary of the contract.
Similarly, the motion court also properly concluded that plaintiff raised questions of fact sufficient to overcome summary judgment as to whether Sera is liable to plaintiff under a theory of detrimental reliance based on plaintiff’s allegation that the Sera security guard promised to respond to plaintiff’s call for assistance, but failed to do so in a timely manner or failed to call the police promptly or at all (see Espinal, 98 NY2d at 140). Defendant’s security guard testified that he could not recall when he received the call from his colleague directing him to go to the floor where plaintiff worked, whether he was advised of any details of what was occurring, or how long it took him to get there. He further testified that he was trained to investigate calls prior to determining whether to call the police, and that, if a staff member called the security station about an incident, it was the Sera security guards’ responsibility to call 911 or the police when warranted. Kuti v Sera Sec. Servs., 2020 NY Slip Op 02153, First Dept 4-2-20