Trip-and-Fall Case Continues; Defect Not “Trivial” as a Matter of Law

In Martyniak v Charleston Enters., LLC (decided June 4, 2014), a trip-and-fall action, the Appellate Division, Second Department affirmed the denial of summary judgment for defendant.

Plaintiff allegedly sustained personal injuries when she tripped and fell over a piece of metal protruding from the sidewalk in front of a Target store located in Staten Island.

The court summarized the applicable law:

Generally, the issue of whether a dangerous or defective condition exists depends on the particular facts of each case, and is properly a question of fact for the jury. Property owners may not be held liable for trivial defects, not constituting a trap or nuisance, over which a pedestrian might merely stumble, stub his or her toes, or trip. There is no “minimal dimension test or per se rule” that the condition must be of a certain height or depth to be actionable. In determining whether a defect is trivial as a matter of law, the court must examine all of the facts presented, “including the width, depth, elevation, irregularity and appearance of the defect along with the time, place and circumstance’ of the injury”.

The court held that defendants failed to make a prima facie showing that the alleged defect was trivial as a matter of law, necessitating the denial of their motion.

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