Wrongful Death Action, Based on Failure to Install Smoke Detectors, Continues

In Mero v. Vuksanovic, 2016 NY Slip Op 05025 (App. Div. 1st Dept. June 23, 2016), the court modified a lower court order to reinstate plaintiff’s allegations concerning defendants’ failure to install smoke detectors.

This case concerns the application of NYC Administrative Code § 27-2045, which pertains to the duties of the owner and occupant with respect to installation and maintenance of smoke detecting devices in certain multiple dwellings.

From the decision:

Defendants failed to establish their prima facie entitlement to summary judgment regarding the issue of whether apartments 18 [where the fire started] and 23 [where the decedent died from smoke inhalation]were equipped with operational smoke detectors when either [the tenant/third-party defendant who rented the apartment where the fire started] or the decedent commenced their tenancies, as required by Administrative Code of City of NY § 27-2045, because they submitted no evidence that one was installed and operational at that time. Given the undisputed testimony of [a] nonparty witness … that no alarm sounded during the fire, there are triable issues of fact as to whether the smoke detectors in the building were functioning properly on the night of the fire and whether operational smoke detectors would have given adequate warning of fire to the decedent.

The court also held that there were “issues of fact as to whether the decedent’s decision to remain in her apartment during the fire was so extraordinary as to interrupt the causal chain stemming from defendants’ alleged negligence in keeping the premises in a reasonably safe condition and constitute an intervening and superseding cause of injury.”

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