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Gair, Gair, Conason, Rubinowitz, Bloom, Hershenhorn, Steigman & Mackauf is a New York Plaintiff's personal injury law firm specializing in automobile accidents, construction accidents, medical malpractice, products liability, police misconduct and all types of New York personal injury litigation.

Articles Posted in Premises Liability

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nyc buildingsIn New York, landlords have a legal duty to make sure that their tenants have safe living conditions. While most landlords are serious about their responsibilities and maintain their buildings in decent condition, a few bad apples are  collecting building violations and putting their tenants at risk of injuries. Some landlords are doing it intentionally to harass them.  Since the beginning of the month, such practices are not tolerated anymore in the city. Local Law 104 of 2019 was activated on March 4th  and stipulates that landlords that have too many violations for hazardous and or unsafe conditions that violate the Housing Maintenance Code or the Construction Code will not be able to apply for construction permits until they have resolved these violations and corrected the unsafe conditions. Landlords applying for a construction permit will not be allowed to have two or more violations for every unit on buildings with 35 or more dwelling units or three or more violations for every unit on buildings with fewer than 35 dwelling units.

List of bad actors updated daily by the DOT

The Department of Buildings has created a list of all the multiple dwelling buildings with these ratios. The list is updated every day. Buildings that are on this list, will not be allowed to obtain construction permits until dangerous conditions are repaired and violations taken care of. Permits will however be issued if they are necessary to correct a violation.

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BABY-GRETAImagine a scenario almost too terrible to speak about.  But by not speaking about it, justice will never be done, and others might be injured.  On May 17, 2015, a caring, loving grandmother took her 2-year-old grandchild for a walk in New York City.  They paused for a moment and were in front of a building when the unimaginable and unthinkable happened –– a portion of the cement façade of the building fell 8 stories and crushed that beautiful grandchild to death in front of her grandmother’s eyes.

In New York State there is a doctrine of law known as “zone of danger” damages, in which an “immediate” family member can receive compensation for the emotional harm suffered in witnessing the death of a family member.  But there was one caveat: before today, a grandmother was not considered to be an “immediate” family member.  Unfortunately, the grandmother’s claim for zone-of-danger damages was dismissed by the Appellate Division.  That injustice was something that had to be rectified.  The NYC personal injury lawyers of Gair, Gair, Conason, Rubinowitz, Bloom, Hershenhorn, Steigman and Mackauf  have never given up in the face of injustice.  “When the law is wrong, it’s time to change the law,” said Ben Rubinowitz.  “That is why we took this case and fought all the way to the highest Court in the State.”

Today, the Court of Appeals rendered a decision reversing the Appellate Division.  Through our hard work and fortitude justice will now be done.  The grandmother’s claim has been reinstated and a jury will now decide what the damages should be awarded for such a horrific injury.

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1200px-Harlem_condemned_buildingTo prevent accidents related to façade collapse or falling debris, any New York City buildings of six stories or higher must have its façade inspected every five years  as part of what is known as the “Façade Inspection Safety Program”. This program was started in 1980 after Grace Gold, a Columbia University student, was killed by falling debris on a Broadway sidewalk. It was originally called Local Law 10 which then morphed into Local Law 11 as the DOB tried to improve the inspection  process.

Despite the regular inspections,  falling debris from defective façades continue to kill and injure pedestrians.  Last year multiple cases of façade collapses including a dramatic accident during which architect Erica Tishman was killed by falling masonry, lead the Department of Buildings to issue a new amended rule for façade inspections in New York City just before the start of the 9th Cycle Façade Inspection Safety Program (FISP) starting on February 20.

Penalties are going up

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one57-crane1The NYC Department of Buildings is failing to adequately protect New Yorkers from dangerous construction accidents. A recent audit by New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer show that for the 85,000 complaints that the agency received in 2019, the DOB was late in one out of five initial inspection attempts. Additionally when a first inspection took place and resulted in violations for immediately hazardous conditions, the DOB failed to make a legally required inspection  within the 60-day statutory deadline. The DOB’ s negligent attitude allows for unsafe building conditions to remain uncorrected, potentially putting New Yorkers at risk of dying or being injured in dangerous construction accidents.

“No one  should have to live or work in fear of debris or unstable scaffolding crashing down on them in a home, place of work, or at any other site in this city,” said New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer.

How does the DOB respond to complaints of potentially unsafe buildings?

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construction NYCThankfully nobody was injured after a loose cable on a spinning crane hit a building under construction sending giant metal debris down the streets in Midtown Manhattan yesterday night around 7 PM and creating chaos.

The metal pieces fell from the 84th floor of  a high rise under construction at 111 West 57th Street. The spinning crane at the top of the building first  caused concerns that it could be loose or unstable but later on firefighters noticed that a cable hanging from the spinning boom was constantly hitting the building, destroying it and sending pieces of metal down the street near the intersection of 6th Avenue and 56th Street.

A crane crew was then sent up and the crane operator was able to get into the crane and secure the loose cable. The DOT issued a full stop work order for failure to safeguard public and property construction operations.

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location of the Sinkhole accidentA man suffered serious personal injury after falling 15 feet into a sinkhole in New York City. The 33 year old victim was waiting for his bus in front of a building located at 4521 Third Avenue in Tremont in the Bronx when the sidewalk suddenly sank under him. The accident occurred last Saturday a little bit after noon. The FDNY rushed to the rescue, brought a ladder to the scene and brought the victim back to the surface. The man was then rushed to the hospital where he is now listed in stable condition. The NYC Department of Buildings found that the vault of the building was in disrepair, causing the ground above it to sink.  The DOT issued a construction violation for the vault and also ordered the building to be immediately vacated. According to the Gothamist, the building was already empty with the exception of a dentist office on the first floor. The building is owned by EH And HD 183rd Realty. It was put on sale around a year ago for $9 million. The owner was ordered by the DOB to install a construction fence around the building to avoid other accidents. The building has a total of 28 complaints and 29 violations from the DOB including 4 active. 2 of the active ones are elevator related violations.

Who is responsible for a sinkhole on a sidewalk?

In New York, it is the responsibility of the building owner to maintain its property  in a safe condition.  If someone is injured because the owner neglected to maintain its property in safe condition, the owner may be held legally responsible for the injuries if they occurred on the owner’s property (see our premises liability page). In New York City, the maintenance of the sidewalk in front of the property is usually the responsibility of the owner.

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location of the building collapseBuildings continue to collapse like  card castles in New York City.  The facade of a building located at 204 Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg came crashing down on the sidewalk yesterday afternoon around 12;45 pm. Luckily nobody was injured in the collapse as the building was vacant at the time of the accident and nobody was in the street because of the heavy rain caused by the tropical Storm Isaias.  There was only damage to the cars parked in the vicinity of the building as falling debris poured onto the street. Residents of adjacent buildings were  evacuated. The DOB issued a fully vacate order to the building located next door at 206 Bedford Avenue while inspectors are still figuring out the causes of the partial structural building collapse.

The  building that collapsed had not logged any complaints since 2003 when a complaint for loud noise related to illegal construction after hours was filed.  2 violations were opened by the DOB after the collapse  for “structure rendered non-compliant after front facade and 3rd floor collapsed”.

The Brooklyn building collapse followed a series of  other building collapses in New York City:

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location of the falling debris accidentA man suffered a skull fracture after a facade collapsed on him as he was walking on a New York City sidewalk.  39 year-old Oumar Ba, a father of two, was walking  on the sidewalk on St. Johns Place in Crown Heights yesterday afternoon around 3:00 pm. when a chunk of bricks and debris fell on him.  His friend Abdouramane Thiam whom he was visiting, as well as other local vendors who witnessed the accident ran to rescue the man as he was lying unconscious on the ground. They called 911 and applied pressure on the back of his head to contain the bleeding until the EMS arrived.  Oumar Ba was rushed to the hospital where he was diagnosed with a skull fracture and injuries to his ribs and shoulder. He is now in stable condition.

Violation for for failure to maintain exterior building wall open since 2004!

The building is an old movie theater that has been reconverted into commercial use. Several complaints dating from as far as 2004 have been logged with the DOB about the illegal  occupancy of the second floor. The building received a total of 37 DOB violations including 28 still open and dating as far as 1991.  The building also has OATH/ECB violations for failure to maintain the exterior building walls open since 2004! The violation mentions “brick work cracked and mortar joints missing with missing bricks at second floor front of building also defective brick work with missing mortar joint”.

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Building that collapsed in ManhattanAnother building partially collapsed in Manhattan yesterday, The building that hosts a mix of residences and commercial spaces is located at 211 East 34th Street. It was completely empty and was undergoing construction work. Around 11:30 am yesterday morning a first part of the wall collapsed followed an hour later by another collapse.

Nobody was injured but the street was closed by the police and the residents of an adjacent  building were evacuated for safety.

The collapsed occurred in the Murray Hill section of Manhattan a few blocks away from another deadly construction accident that occurred a few hours later and during which a piece of parapet detached from the roof and landed on a hanging scaffolding, killing one construction worker and injuring 3 others.

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A man was injured in a partial building collapse in Manhattan. Part of the facade of a building containing a parking garage on 203 East 38th Street near third Avenue in Murray Hill  crashed down the street falling on a parked Limousine with TLC plates. The driver who was sitting in the car at the time of the accident was injured as debris falling from the top of the building partially destroyed his car. The windows were broken and the trunk dented. Another man who was making a delivery nearby just had the time to escape and run away from the disaster. According to witnesses, first a few bricks fell on the ground and then immediately after a significant part of the wall followed.

Complaints of illegal construction work were previously filed with the  NYC Department of Buildings

The parking garage was closed during the coronavirus crisis. It opened and closed several times last year according to a local resident who was interviewed by CBS News. The resident said that on some days he witnessed trucks coming out of the garage carrying loads of debris. The DOB received previous complaints that construction work was being done at the location without valid permits. Inspectors were sent twice to the location but were not able to enter the building according to the DOB.  The building which is under a partial vacate order  received 3 previous violations in May and June related to damages to the roof and floor that were categorized as “immediate emergency”. These violations were still active at the time of the accident.