It may seem reasonably obvious which party is responsible when part of a building façade falls and kills a pedestrian. But in its defense of a recent wrongful death lawsuit, the City of New York asserted that the pedestrian’s conduct or contributed to her injuries. This premises liability lawsuit also involved the building’s owner.
Over one year ago, part of the façade of a building on 729 7th Avenue fell on the architect and killed her as she was walking blocks away from her office. She was married and the mother of three children.
The building’s owners were issued two violations in 2019 for damaged terra cotta. They paid the fine but did not repair the problem. Records also show that this building was deemed unsafe in April. However, the owner did not install any protections for pedestrians until after the victim’s death. A spokesperson for the building’s owner said it had plans to repair the façade and a contract was awarded for this work. Installation of a shed was scheduled when the work commenced.
The property owner is responsible for installing appropriate measures to protect pedestrians, according to a New York City buildings department spokesperson. The owner claimed that repairs were not done because it was awaiting City approval for the work.
The plaintiff’s attorney said that the City should have done more to assure pedestrian safety. The City was supposed to follow up and assure that the emergency situation was fixed. The City should have built the construction shed for the repair and then charge the building’s owner, according to the attorney.
The victim’s widow filed a negligence and wrongful death lawsuit against the building’s owners and the City in Aug. In additional facts contained in its answer to the lawsuit, the City alleged that the victim knew or should have known about the risks and dangers and that she did not use all required, reasonable, and proper safety devices.
It provided no further elaboration on how a pedestrian could take additional precautions. The plaintiff’s attorney was astonished that the City claimed that a pedestrian assumed any risk. Neighbors claim that the victim was passionate about building safety.
As this case shows, premises liability and other personal injury lawsuits may be vigorously defended and become complicated. An attorney can help accident victims and their families pursue their rights to compensation and damages in these cases.