Decisions of Interest

Morrison v. Apostolic Faith Mission, et al

Supreme Court, Queens County, Index No. Index No. 32810/09

While performing pest control at the insured premises, plaintiff, a 43 year old exterminator, claimed that she was caused to slip and fall down the staircase to a church basement due to the alleged uneven and unlevel nature and varied height of the steps and landing. Plaintiff further alleged that the landing was in a slippery condition and that the bottom steps after the landing did not have a handrail in violation of the New York City Building Code.

Malapero & Prisco argued, and the Court agreed, that for the plaintiff to recover damages against the insured church, she had to show that the defendant either caused or created the alleged dangerous or defective condition, the uneven stairs and slippery landing, or that it had actual knowledge or constructive notice of it. Otherwise, the defendant church could not be held liable and the complaint should be dismissed.

Moreover, it was argued that plaintiff must have established that the defendant had notice of the specific condition which caused her injury. Malapero & Prisco’s motion for summary judgment was granted on April 11, 2012, after it demonstrated that the insured was never notified of any problems or defects, there was no record of prior occurrences and that the alleged defects were not visible or apparent to constitute constructive notice. The Court also held the absence of a handrail did not constitute a dangerous condition and plaintiff’s argument on that issue was conclusory and speculative.