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Case Study

Summary judgment granted to commercial retailer for trivial defect, May 5, 2011

June 11, 2012

The plaintiff in this premises liability action alleged that she suffered personal injuries as a result of a dangerous carpeting condition inside the entrance area of the defendant commercial retailer’s department store.  Specifically, the plaintiff alleged that a dangerous condition was presented by a height differential in the area where two rugs met just inside the entrance.  David Leach and Michael Rubin successfully argued in support of a motion for summary judgment on behalf of the defendant that the defect – which a professional engineer measured to be at most 3/8” – was trivial and non-actionable.  There was also no evidence of any prior accidents despite the fact that the alleged condition had been in existence for a number of years and had been traversed by literally thousands of shoppers and employees.  This decision is noteworthy in view of the well-established law in New York that whether a dangerous or defective condition exists in any premises liability action is generally a question of fact for the jury.  The decision was recently affirmed on appeal.