Failure to Inspect Alleged Defective Mailbox Panel Results in Continuation of Postal Worker’s Personal Injury Case

In Williamson v Ogden Cap Props., LLC, decided January 27, 2015, the Appellate Division, First Department affirmed the denial of defendant’s summary judgment motion, permitting plaintiff’s claims to continue. From the decision:

Defendants failed to make a prima facie showing that they lacked constructive notice of the alleged defective mailbox panel, because it is undisputed that they never inspected the panel prior to plaintiff postal worker’s accident. Defendants’ alleged lack of a key to open the panel is not determinative, as they failed to show that a cursory inspection would not have disclosed the loose condition of the panel observed by plaintiff and the notice witness in the months prior to the accident.

Accordingly, the record presents an issue of fact as to whether defendants exercised reasonable care in maintaining the mailbox panel, and whether constructive notice may be imputed. Soto v New Frontiers 2 Hope Hous. Dev. Fund Co., Inc. (118 AD3d 471 [1st Dept 2014]) is distinguishable because there, the defendants demonstrated that a reasonable inspection would not have revealed the defect. Defendants also failed to make a prima facie showing that their negligence was not a proximate cause of the accident.

Even if defendants had met their prima facie burden, plaintiff’s testimony, coupled with the notice witness’s statement, raised an issue of fact as to whether the screws on the right side of the mailbox panel were missing or loose and whether the alleged defect existed for a sufficient period of time before the accident to enable defendants to discover and repair it

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