A theatergoer forced into the street due to a crowded lineup loses her bid to be compensated for her injuries that occurred not on that crowded sidewalk, rather in the street.
The First Department has upheld a Manhattan Supreme Court Justice’s grant of summary judgment to defendant landowner in Quigley v Nederlander Org., Inc, where plaintiff injured in front of a Broadway theatre. Plaintiff testified that upon arriving at the theatre, she and her group were directed to join the line to enter the building. As plaintiff followed her group to the back of the line, she stepped onto the street and her heel was caught in a crack between two metal plates causing her to fall. Plaintiff alleged that the theater was negligent because she forced to maneuver her way through a crowded sidewalk onto the street.
Defendant theatre owner, Nederlander Organizations, Inc. d/b/a The Lunt-Fontane Theatre, established entitlement to judgment as a matter of law. Defendant was not on notice of any dangerous crowding condition or of a hazardous condition on the street close to the area where patrons stood in line.
Notably, plaintiff did not identify that an overcrowding condition restricted her movement or that defendant directed her to walk on the street. Plaintiff acknowledged that the sidewalk traffic was made up of pedestrians and patrons and that the crowd was tame. The court noted that, even if the entire width of the sidewalk had been overtaken by the crowd, defendant owner still could not be liable for plaintiff’s injuries absent prior notice of a dangerous condition. Further, it was unforeseeable that directing plaintiff to join the line would have placed her in harm’s way.
Thus, since plaintiff was unable to raise a triable issue of fact as to defendant’s negligence, the First Department upheld summary judgment, based on evidence showing that plaintiff’s own culpable conduct in attempting to strategically maneuver her way through the crowd and ultimately caused her injuries.
We see an increasing number of cases involving pedestrians who claim injuries due to sidewalk configurations. This case clarifies the landowner’s duty for future litigation.
Thanks to Theresa Dinh for her contribution to this post.