The First Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined the defendant out-of-possession landlord (West 16th) was not liable for an injury from a non-defective cellar door which closed and struck plaintiff’s head:
It is well established that an out-of-possession landlord like West 16th “is generally not liable for negligence with respect to the condition of the demised premises unless it (1) is contractually obligated to make repairs or maintain the premises, or (2) has a contractual right to reenter, inspect and make needed repairs and liability is based on a significant structural or design defect that is contrary to a specific statutory safety provision” … .
The lease did not obligate West 16th to maintain or repair the cellar doors or to install an auxiliary safety device on the cellar doors, which were fully functional and not broken in any way. …
Further, the alleged defect is not a structural defect contrary to a specific statutory safety provision. … [W]e have previously held that the failure to install a safety device to hold such doors open—the precise negligence alleged against West 16th herein—was “not a structural defect contrary to a specific statutory safety provision” … . Matias v West 16th Realty LLC, 2020 NY Slip Op 08000, First Dept 12-29-20