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FINCH v. PERS

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK


January 4, 1994

MARY FINCH, Plaintiff,
v.
B. ELLIOT PERS,1 PAULINE PERS, 2100 LINWOOD AVE OWNERS, INC., MEDITERRANEAN-TOWERS, and SECURITY OPERATIONS SYSTEMS, INC. a/k/a S.O.S., INC., Defendants.

Newman

The opinion of the court was delivered by: BERNARD NEWMAN

Plaintiff, Mary Finch, a resident of The Bronx, New York, was employed as a part-time housekeeper in the apartment of defendant Pauline Pers, a tenant of a residential cooperative high-rise building in Fort Lee, New Jersey known as Mediterranean Towers. Pers offered Finch a ride to her bus stop for Finch's return trip home and arranged to pick her up at the front of the building. Unable to wait for plaintiff directly under the canopy covering the driveway and sidewalk at the front entrance of the building due to the presence of other standing vehicles, Pers waited for plaintiff in an uncovered area of driveway a short distance away from the front entrance canopy. After plaintiff exited the building en route to Pers' waiting vehicle, plaintiff fell down on the sidewalk sustaining injury caused solely by a sudden gust of wind. Plaintiff filed this diversity action for recovery of damages for her personal injuries against Pers, the cooperative, and its security contractor, claiming that they were negligent and that such negligence was a concurring proximate cause of her injuries.

Held:

 As a matter of law in New Jersey, defendant Pers, as a motorist waiting for a passenger in the driveway, had no duty of care to protect plaintiff from being blown down by a gust of wind when she exited the building. Even assuming that, as claimed by plaintiff, the front entrance canopy area was the safest place for motorists to pick and discharge passengers, Pers had no duty to protect Finch from falling due solely to sudden a gust of wind and breached no duty owing to plaintiff simply by waiting to pick Finch up in an uncovered area of driveway.

 Neither of the other defendants - the cooperative and its house security contractor - owed any duty of care to plaintiff, whether an invitee or licensee, to protect her from being blown down by a sudden gust of wind on the premises.

 Wind gusts were not latent defects in the cooperative's premises, imposing a duty to protect or warn visitors.


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