Negligence: Court Grants Summary Judgment in Favor of Sidewalk Installation Subcontractor Where Installation Work Was Performed and Approved Six Years Before Pedestrian’s Fall


April 9, 2018

Abuhamda v. Brooklyn Sneaker Box, Inc., et al. (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Kings Co.)

Deborah A. Summers, Esq. and Lori B. Lewis, Esq.

 

In Abuhamda, the plaintiff was allegedly injured in a fall due to what she described as shaky and uneven ground on a sidewalk in front of 8519 5th Avenue in Brooklyn.  The fall occurred nearly six years after a municipal reconstruction project including sidewalk reconstruction in the area.  Plaintiff commenced two actions (later consolidated) seeking damages for injuries she allegedly sustained as a result of the fall, including against certain municipal entities and contractors allegedly involved with the municipal reconstruction project.  A third-party action was commenced against a subcontractor that allegedly installed the concrete sidewalks for the reconstruction project.  The third-party complaint asserted claims against the subcontractor for contractual indemnification, common law indemnification and contribution, and breach of contract for failure to procure insurance.

 

The sidewalk installation subcontractor moved for summary judgment, arguing there was no evidence to prove it had installed the granite blocks that had allegedly caused plaintiff to fall, much less that it had negligently done so.  The subcontractor pointed out that an engineering consultant hired by the City had inspected and prepared an itemized punch list detailing items to be addressed before any of its work could be deemed accepted and completed, that the consultant that monitored and tested the solid compaction throughout the installation process, and that the work was eventually accepted and the project was deemed complete.  The subcontractor argued that even if it had performed the work to install the granite blocks at issue, there was insufficient proof of negligence because the engineering consultant had approved the completion of that part of the project and indicated that the granite blocks were laid flush and level with the adjacent concrete at the time of installation.  The subcontractor also pointed out that 1% of the contractor’s payment was initially withheld pending a “guarantee inspection” to be performed 18 months after the substantial completion date, and that when the guarantee inspection was performed the granite blocks were still flush and level with the adjacent concrete.  The Supreme Court, Kings County (Hon. Reginald A. Boddie, J.S.C.) granted the sidewalk installation subcontractor’s motion for summary judgment and dismissed the third-party action against it.