Case Notes in

Personal Injury

First published: Jul 2023
Sidewalk Hazard

TAKEAWAY This sidewalk tale, one of the most common types of legal action, serves as a reminder for co-op and condo board directors across the city. Under the New York City administrative code, property owners bear not only the responsibility for their buildings but also for the safety of the adjacent public sidewalks. This crucial duty cannot be delegated or brushed aside. Regular and thorough inspections, coupled with prompt repairs, are paramount in limiting the risk of personal injury claims. The story underscores a crucial point - no matter how obvious a hazardous condition might appear, it doesn't absolve property owners from their duty. The safety and well-being of pedestrians remain a top priority and cannot be compromised.

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First published: May 2023
Spirollari v. Breukelen Owners Corp. and SMRC Mgmt LLC

An issue that is very common in co-ops and condos is the use of the handymen and other staff after hours by the shareholders and unit-owners. This litigation illustrates the danger when boards allow that. If there is an injury, might the board be held responsible? If there is damage caused during the job, who might be responsible? Is the super or the board still somehow supervising the work, even though they are not in the room? These are questions that one does not want to have to answer when disaster strikes. If a board allows its employees to work for residents after hours, a policy should be put in place and a waiver of liability signed by the shareholder or unit-owner, freeing the board from any responsibility. The resident should be made aware that the co-op or condo and its management are not responsible if anything goes wrong and that the burden of risk is shifted to the resident. Insurance issues should be reviewed by the board. And consultation with counsel is essential to make sure the board does not ignore or mishandle a very serious and sensitive issue.

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