BID’s liability goes to trial

Plaza near 54-55 Myrtle Avenue as seen in September 2014. Image Credit: Google Maps.

Pedestrian injured in slip and fall on City-owned land under maintenance of the Business Improvement District. The City of New York owns a plaza located near 54-55 Myrtle Avenue in Queens. The plaza is a small park-like area and contains a winding sidewalk lined with trees and other landscape. The City contracted with the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District to maintain the plaza, including the maintenance of its sidewalk.

While walking in the plaza, Mercedes Vidal tripped over an uneven portion of the sidewalk and was injured. Vidal sued both the City and the Myrtle Avenue BID alleging that they were negligent in failing to maintain the sidewalk in a reasonably safe condition.

The Myrtle Avenue BID moved to dismiss the case against it arguing that it had no duty to Vidal. Vidal responded that the Myrtle Avenue BID can be held liable for Vidal’s injuries because the Myrtle Avenue BID completely displaced the City’s responsibility to maintain the sidewalk.

Supreme Court Justice Howard G. Lane ruled against the Myrtle Avenue BID and upheld Vidal’s complaint. Judge Lane reasoned that Vidal’s action against the Myrtle Avenue BID could not be dismissed because there were still issues of fact regarding whether or not the Myrtle Avenue BID had completely absorbed the City’s responsibility for the sidewalk’s maintenance and repair. The Myrtle Avenue BID appealed.

The Appellate Division, Second Department, agreed with the Supreme Court, ruled against the Myrtle Avenue BID, and remanded the case to the trial court to resolve the fact issue of whether the Myrtle Avenue BID had displaced the City’s responsibility to maintain the sidewalk.

Vidal v. City of New York, 157 N.Y.S.3d 519 (2nd Dep’t 2021)

By: Kate Wildonger (Kate is a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2022).


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