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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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The poor maintenance of a NYC residential building caused a woman to fall to the basement of her building after a bathroom floor collapsed. The woman was injured and is now recovering in the hospital. After the accident occurred, the Department of Buildings came to the premises located on Shakespeare Avenue in the Bronx and started an investigation of the premises. They found that a lack of maintenance lead to a collapse of the portion of the bathroom floor to the basement. A partial vacate order was issued and the landlord was issued a violation for failure to maintain his property. The DOB also ordered him to hire a professional engineer to produce a report on the structural stability of the other floors of the apartment.

Other tenants are scared for their life

While the DOB focused mostly on the apartment where the accident occurred, a CBS crew went to visit the tenants on other floors and the video below shows that the entire building is in serious need of repair. Other tenants are concerned that the same accident may occur to them as well and do not feel safe in their apartments. They have been complaining to the landlord for years about the need for maintenance but the landlord has not done anything. Leeks are everywhere, bathroom ceilings are destroyed,  and when it rains, water is pouring on the stairways and in the apartment of a tenant. Doors that can not be closed so damaged they are by water, broken sink, tiles that barely hold on the walls of showers in multiple apartments visited by the tv crew show a building in total disrepair and in real need of maintenance.

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Steinway building3 people suffered personal injury caused by falling ice in Midtown Manhattan and streets had to be temporarily closed around the Steinman high rise to prevent further accidents.  Falling ice from super-tall high rise all glass sky scrappers is an ongoing issue in New York City that has been causing entire streets to shut down.  Studies have found that the energy efficiency system installed on aluminum and glass high-rises causes unexpected accumulation of ice and snow (see previous post) and as a result when the temperature rises, this ice is falling down on the street from such height that it becomes deadly.

On Friday afternoon, a woman was driving her car on Sixth Ave when a giant piece of ice, crashed on the top of her car, causing the roof to crash down on her head and seriously injuring her. The ice fell from the high-rise located at 111 W. 57th St also known as the Steinway building because it was built at the location of the Steinway pianos showroom. It is also one of the highest building in the US and the thinnest skyscraper in the world.

35 year old Deneice O’Connor said she thought a body fell on her car when the accident occurred. She said she was traumatized but was able to drive the car to the curb and find refuge under an awning while 10 foot long panes of ice continue to crash down on the street.

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A decorative stone arch on the top of the front door of a residential brownstone in Brooklyn collapsed on the stoop and destroyed it, prompting the Department of Buildings to evacuate the building. Luckily nobody was around when the accident occurred. Three families living in the building were evacuated and temporarily relocated by the Red Cross. The owner of the building located on Carlton Avenue in Prospect Heights was issued a ticket for failure to maintain the building.  The owner was also ordered to immediately install a sidewalk shed to protect pedestrians from further potential collapse and to repair the building.

Building owners in New York City have a duty to maintain their property so they are safe inside and outside

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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: