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New York Supreme Court Dismisses Case Against Apartment Complex Owner and Property Management Company

Case Study

New York Supreme Court Dismisses Case Against Apartment Complex Owner and Property Management Company

June 17, 2021

Goldberg Segalla prevailed on its motion for summary judgment seeking dismissal of a plaintiff’s complaint against our clients, an apartment complex owner and a property management company, in a deeply contested litigation involving an altercation between two tenants and the landlords’ duty to protect their tenants from foreseeable harm, effectively closing a case that had been in litigation for more than five years.

In this matter, the plaintiff, who was a tenant at the apartment complex, was severely injured while attempting to intervene in a confrontation at the apartment complex between a neighboring tenant and the plaintiff’s son. The plaintiff was stabbed in the eye, causing permanent vision loss. The plaintiff filed suit against Goldberg Segalla’s clients, claiming that the tenant who stabbed him had a criminal and violent history, which was known or should have been known to the landlords.

Goldberg Segalla’s Todd R. Harris, vice chair of the firm’s Retail and Hospitality group, litigated the case and moved for summary judgment after the close of all discovery. Todd argued that the landlords had no notice of any purported criminal activity or violent tendencies of the tenant, and owed no duty to the plaintiff. In the decision, the court noted that “landlords are subject to a common-law duty to take minimal precautions to protect tenants from foreseeable harm, including harm from the foreseeable criminal conduct of third persons.” The court also stated that foreseeability is a crucial element for liability to attach in negligence.

By demonstrating that the complex owner and property management company lacked notice of any prior occurrence of the same or similar criminal activity by the tenant in question, and further establishing the lack of any record of complaints made against him, aside from the hearsay statements the plaintiff’s counsel was attempting to introduce, Todd successfully established our client’s entitlement to judgment, and the complaint against them was dismissed with prejudice.


Attorneys in our Retail and Hospitality group offer strong defense, comprehensive counsel, and long-term strategic guidance to all types of retail, hospitality, and commercial development businesses. With the knowledge and resources to handle complex litigation and arbitration and provide sound risk-avoidance counsel, we also offer our clients all the benefits of a relationship with a firm that values teamwork and professionalism. Partnering with Goldberg Segalla means peace of mind that lasts—through your present legal concerns and well into the future, when our attorneys will continue to keep you up to date about emerging issues and best practices to help you recognize and manage risk, and focus on growing your business.