Legal Memorandum: Damages for Negligence in NY

Issue: Under New York law, may liability for a fall be based on a claim that a floor or surface was always slippery?

Area of Law: Personal Injury & Negligence
Keywords: Liability for a fall; Inherently slippery condition of the floor
Jurisdiction: New York
Cited Cases: 680 N.Y.S.2d 511; 261 A.D. 2d 368
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 05/01/2000

A claim that a floor was slippery all the time and therefore not safe to walk upon is tantamount to claiming the “inherent qualities” of the product as a basis of liability, a proposition rejected by the Court in Forni v. Ferguson, 232 A.D. 2d 176 (1st Dept., 1996).  The mere fact that a floor may be shiny or slippery does not support a cause of action to recover damages for negligence, nor does it give rise to any inference of negligence.  See Lee v. Rite-Aid, 261 A.D. 2d 368.  It is well settled that absent proof of the reason for a plaintiff’s fall other than the “inherently slippery” condition of the floor, no cause of action can properly be maintained.  Kruimer v. National Cleaning Contractors, Inc., 680 N.Y.S.2d 511 (1st Dept., 1998 [citing the Court of Appeals decision of Murphy v. Conner, 84 N.Y.2d 969].  See also Mroz v. Ella Corp., 262 A.D. 2d 465, wherein the court basically “dismissed” a plaintiff’s expert’s opinion which essentially concluded that the “offending” tiles were dangerous and defective in that they were slippery due to their smoothness, the court further stating that such is not an actionable defect.


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