Legal Memorandum: Liabilities of Building Owners in NY

Issue: Under New York law, may an owner of a building be held liable for a plaintiff’s injuries in a claim for damages due to an elevator stopping abruptly?

Area of Law: Personal Injury & Negligence
Keywords: Building owners and elevator companies; Injuries to elevator users; Elevator
Jurisdiction: New York
Cited Cases: 499 N.Y.S.2d 486; 225 A.D.2d 907; 639 N.Y.S.2d 507; 118 A.D.2d 920; 555 N.Y.S.2d 669; 75 N.Y.2d 680
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 05/01/2000

Although building owners and elevator companies can be held liable for injuries to elevator users under the proper circumstances, liability is not automatic.  For example, in Tashjian v. Strong & Associates, 225 A.D.2d 907, 639 N.Y.S.2d 507 (A.D. 1996), it has held that a building owner and an elevator company were entitled to summary judgment on a plaintiff elevator user’s personal injury claims because the defendants submitted unrebutted competent evidence establishing that they had received no prior actual or constructive notice of any defective condition in the elevator.  To the contrary, the elevator company produced deposition testimony as to weekly maintenance and inspection of the elevator, as well work tickets for a period of three months prior to the accident and annual inspection reports, all showing that the elevator was performing satisfactorily.  Further, there was evidence that there had been no complaints about the elevator’s performance, either on behalf of the plaintiff or third persons.  Id. at ___, 639 N.Y.S.2d at 509. 

In Sirigiano v. Otis Elevator Co., 118 A.D.2d 920, 499 N.Y.S.2d 486 (A.D. 1986), a building owner successfully moved to dismiss the complaint against it on the ground that there was insufficient evidence that the owner had notice of misleveling problems with the elevator and that the owner had delegated the duty to maintain the elevator to an elevator company pursuant to an elevator maintenance contract.  However, it is argued in a […]

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