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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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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.

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1200px-Harlem_condemned_buildingTwo people were recently killed by falling debris in New York. In January a woman was killed in Queens after a piece of plywood detached from a building (see previous blog). A month before another woman was killed in Midtown after debris from a building under construction fell on her (see previous post).

Months before the accident occurred, the department of buildings issued a class one violation to the building owner notifying him that some pieces of terra-cota were damaged and were causing a risk to pedestrians. The building fought the violation and its lawyer told the DOB that the facade didn’t pose an immediate danger to pedestrians. “The photos and the allegations, even taken together, do not substantiate the claim that there’s any kind of a falling hazard,”  he said to the DOB. The DOB agreed to downgrade the violation but still required that the building owner repair the facade. A permit to put up a sidewalk shed and repair the facade was issued to the building owner but month later nothing had been done and as a result someone died (see article in Wall Street Journal).

In other cases, sheds and protection are installed, but the owner doesn’t effectuate any repairs and ignore the fines received by the DOB. In 2001 the owner of a building in the Bronx was required by the DOB to immediately close a children’s playground that was compromised by a crumbling facade. The owner closed the playground but never did the repairs. The playground has now been closed for almost 20 years and the building owner has ignored 19 violations, didn’t pay the accumulated $49,000 in fines and didn’t show up at 7 hearings on the dangerous conditions. This situation is not unique. In new York City, there are 1,400 facades that have been deemed dangerous for pedestrians by the DOB and that have not been repaired yet (see New York Times article).

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41-28-MainA pedestrian was killed by falling debris in New York City. 67 year old Xiang Ji was walking on Main Street near 41st Street in Flushing, Queens Thursday morning around 9:45 am. There was a strong wind and as she walked in front of the building located at 41-28 Main Street, a piece of plywood covered with aluminium detached from the roof and fell on her.

The woman was knocked down on the sidewalk. Witnesses tried to help her until EMS arrived. She was rushed to the hospital but she couldn’t be saved.

The building owner who has 18 violations open with the DOB was slapped with another violation for failure to properly maintain the building. The DOB also required the owner of the building to erect a sidewalk shed on the top of the sidewalk to protect pedestrians from any further problems. The previous violations were mostly related to effectuating work without a permit inside the building. (Picture of the location of the accident: courtesy of Google Map)

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1200px-Falling_Ice_25789489572
Injuries or even deaths related to ice falling from buildings in New York City isn’t something new and it is quite common for NYC pedestrians to see sidewalks partially closed during the winter because of the potential risk of ice chunks falling from buildings.

Recently however, entire streets of the city were closed for several days by the police because of massive chunks of ice falling from supertall glass skyscrapers.

https://youtu.be/3MnUmG4UA4I

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Following the tragic death of  architect Erica Tishman who was killed by falling debris in Times Square, New York two days ago, Inside Edition looked at previous cases of victims struck by falling debris.

They talked to our client Jayson Greene who lost his 2 year old daughter Greta after a brick fell on her. At the time of the accident, Greta was sitting on her grandmother’s lap on a bench in the Upper West Side of Manhattan (see more info in previous blog). Jason  told Inside Edition that no one in New York City should fear for their life when walking in the street. He felt very sad for the family of Erica Tishman who will have to endure the same tragedy his family went through when his daughter was killed.