Property Owners’ Creative Argument Unable to Chip Away at Sidewalk Liability

In Bednark v. City of New York, et al., the plaintiff tripped and fell on a cracked sidewalk while getting off a City bus.  Due to traffic concerns, the bus stopped approximately 55 feet from the bus stop.  The City moved for summary judgment arguing that under Administrative Code §7-210, the responsibility to maintain the sidewalk fell on the abutting property owners.  The property owners cross-moved arguing that they were not responsible for maintaining the sidewalk where plaintiff fell since it was used as a bus stop, and “[t]he City of New York … is responsible for the maintenance of bus stops within the City of New York, including the roads, curbs, and sidewalks attendant thereto.”

Regardless of where the bus actually stopped, the court noted that the definition of a bus stop was, “a location … designated by signage … to pick up or discharge passengers, which location includes five feet of the sidewalk and the gutter immediately adjacent to the curb for the portion of such curb.”  Since the sidewalk where plaintiff stepped off the bus and fell was 55 feet away from the bus stop, the duty to maintain that area fell on the abutting property owners.

While the property owners made a creative argument, at the end of the day, NYC Administrative Code §7-210 remains a powerful tool for plaintiffs and the City to place liability on the abutting property owner for sidewalk defects.

For questions about this post contact nbrown@wcmlaw.com