The Second Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined defendant property-owner’s motion for summary judgment in this sidewalk slip and fall case should have been granted. Although, pursuant to the Vehicle and Traffic Law, defendant can be responsible for a dangerous condition in the grassy strip between the sidewalk and a curb, here defendant demonstrated he did not create the condition and the village code did not impose tort liability on abutting property owners. Although the “village code” issue was not raised below, it was a purely legal issue that can be considered on appeal:
The grass strip situated between a sidewalk and a roadway is part of the sidewalk (see Vehicle and Traffic Law § 144; Code of the Village of Westbury [hereinafter Village Code] § 215-2 … ). “‘An abutting landowner will be liable to a pedestrian injured by a defect in a public sidewalk only when the owner either created the condition or caused the defect to occur because of a special use, or when a statute or ordinance places an obligation to maintain the sidewalk on the owner and expressly makes the owner liable for injuries caused by a breach of that duty'” … .
Here, the defendant established his prima facie entitlement to judgment as a matter of law dismissing the complaint insofar as asserted against him by demonstrating that he did not create the alleged dangerous condition or cause that condition through a special use of the sidewalk … . In addition, while Village Code § 215-12 imposes a duty on owners and occupants of abutting land to keep sidewalks free of obstructions, the Village Code does not specifically impose tort liability for breach of that duty … . Although the defendant did not make an argument based on the provisions of the Village Code in support of his motion before the Supreme Court, his argument in this regard is reviewable on appeal because it is a purely legal argument that appears on the face of the record and could not have been avoided had it been raised at the proper juncture … . Lamorte v Iadevaia, 2021 NY Slip Op 04126, Second Dept 6-30-21