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 Tagged with premises liability nyc

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DOB NYCAs building collapse attorneys based in New York City, we are deeply concerned about the recent findings concerning the parking garage collapse in Lower Manhattan. More than a year has passed since this tragic event, and the root cause remains undetermined, highlighting significant gaps in our city’s approach to building safety and regulation.

The recent declaration by the Department of Buildings (DOB) that the Ann Street parking garage did not fail due to overloading is a critical piece of information. It suggests that other factors, possibly related to the structural integrity of the building itself, might have led to the collapse. Notably, University of Arizona engineering professor Sammy Tin speculated that the garage’s condition at the time of collapse might have been a contributing factor, despite the walls and pillars appearing pristine and undamaged.

It’s alarming to learn that prior to the collapse, there were open violations dating back to 2003 and 2009 for issues such as loose or missing concrete. These findings were brought to light almost immediately after the collapse by investigative journalists. This raises significant concerns about the enforcement of building codes and the efficacy of the inspections process in New York City.

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Fazil Khan victim of a lithium battery explosionIn an urgent response to the rising threat posed by lithium-ion battery fires, New York City Council has enacted two new e-bike safety regulations. This legislative action, motivated by a tragic fire in Harlem sparked by a lithium-ion battery, underscores the city’s commitment to addressing the dangers associated with these batteries. The fire accident, which claimed the life of 27-year-old Fazil Khan, a young journalist,  and critically injured four others, has catalyzed a city-wide discourse on the safety of e-mobility devices.

The first rule mandates that businesses selling e-bikes and e-scooters must display safety information regarding the storage of lithium-ion batteries both in-store and online. This is a critical measure aimed at educating the public on proper battery handling to mitigate fire risks. The second regulation intensifies the crackdown on the sale of non-UL-certified batteries by enhancing penalties for illegal sales and bolstering city enforcement. These steps, while significant, are part of a broader call for comprehensive federal legislation to ensure the sale of only certified batteries across the United States.

Parallel to these legislative efforts, New York City is pioneering a solution to one of the most pressing issues related to e-bike safety: battery charging. The city has launched a pilot program to establish public e-bike charging hubs in Manhattan and Brooklyn, offering a safer alternative to charging batteries indoors. The initiative kicked off with the unveiling of the first hub at Cooper Square in the East Village.

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Monterey garage in UWS has structural issuesThe recent collapse of a parking garage in Lower Manhattan, which resulted in the loss of a life and injuries to several individuals, has raised concerns about the safety and condition of parking structures throughout New York. In response, city officials conducted inspections of numerous garages, uncovering widespread structural problems that have been allowed to persist for years. This blog explores the findings of The New York Times’ investigation into the state of these garages, shedding light on the hazards faced by both employees and customers.

The investigation by The New York Times has revealed that serious structural issues are prevalent among parking garages across the city. Crumbling ceilings, exposed and rusting reinforcing bars, and other defects have been identified in over three dozen garages including the Monterey Garage in the UWS where the DOT documented that a 12 by 18-inch chunk of concrete fell from the ceiling. Shockingly, many of these garages have continued to operate despite the documented hazards. In some cases, inspections uncovered garages that were exceeding their capacity, with exits blocked on multiple levels due to overcrowding.

Neglected Violations

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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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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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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.