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Brooklyn, NY Legal Blog

Monday, February 20, 2017

Landlord’s Responsibilities in a Negligent Security Action

A landlord has the common-law duty to take minimal precautions to protect tenants from foreseeable harm, including foreseeable criminal conduct by a third-person.  In order to recover against a landlord for assault, a tenant is required to show that the landlord’s failure to provide adequate security was the proximate cause of the injury.

Last week, the Appellate Division, Second Department in the case Ramos v. New York City Housing Authority affirmed Justice Schmidt’s April 24, 2015 decision which denied the New York City Housing Authority’s motion for summary judgment. 

In Ramos, the Plaintiff was assaulted by an assailant in the hallway of her apartment building, which was owned by the New York City Housing Authority.  The Plaintiff and her mother, who filed a derivate claim for loss of services, commenced an action against the New York City Housing Authority for negligent security.

During discovery, the Plaintiff testified at her deposition that the front door of her building did not fully close and lock, but was ajar on the day of her assault, as well as on the previous days and on numerous other occasions.  On the day of her assault, the Plaintiff saw her assailant, whom she knew did not reside in her building, as she was walking home from school.  The assailant arrived at Plaintiff’s apartment building first, but Plaintiff did not see her assailant enter the building.  When Plaintiff arrived at the building, the assailant was in the lobby area and opened the door for her.  The assailant informed Plaintiff that he was there to visit a friend.  The assault occurred shortly thereafter.

NYCHA’s caretaker/supervisor appeared on behalf of the New York City Housing Authority.  He testified that he inspected the front door to make sure that it was working properly.  He testified that inspection records revealed that while the front door had been damaged and not locking one week prior to the Plaintiff’s assault, the front door was not in need of any repair on the day of the assault or the day before.

Justice Schmidt denied Defendant New York City Housing Authority’s motion for summary judgment.  On appeal, the Appellate Division, Second Department affirmed Justice Schmidt’s decision finding that the New York City Housing Authority failed to meet its burden for dismissal of the Plaintiff’s case.  The Court found that Plaintiff’s testimony about whether the front door of the New York City Housing Authority’s apartment building was working properly prior to and on the day of the assault raised a triable issue of fact.  There was also a question as to whether the assailant was an intruder who gained access to the apartment building through a negligently maintained entrance.

A copy of February 15, 2017 Appellate Division, Second Department decision in Quierra Mary Ramos v. New York City Housing Authority can be read here.

If you have been injured as a result of the landlord’s failure to provide you with adequate security in your apartment building, you may be able to take legal action against the property owner.  The Law Offices of Effie Soter, P.C. takes a strong stance against negligent property owners who fail to maintain their premises and knowingly endanger their tenants, guests and/or patrons. We encourage you to get in touch with a New York premises liability attorney at The Law Offices of Effie Soter, P.C. to talk about your rights as a victim and what legal options are available to you.

Our experienced team of attorneys stands ready to fight for justice on behalf of negligent security victims in the New York area. To schedule a free initial consultation with our firm, please call our office at (646) 504-7384 or email us at effie@soterlawpc.com.


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