November 14, 2013
Helena Ashton, Plaintiff-Respondent,
EQR-140 Riverside A, LLC, EQR-140 Riverside C, LLC, EQR-140 Riverside D, LLC, EQR-140 Riverside E, LLC, EQR-140 Riverside F, LLC, and Equity Residential Properties Management Corp., Defendants-Appellants.
Defendants appeal from an order of the Civil Court of the City of New York, New York County (Ann E. O'Shea, J.), entered September 4, 2012, and an order and judgment (one paper) (same court and Judge), entered December 5, 2012, after a nonjury trial, in favor of plaintiff and awarding her damages in the principal sum of $250, 000 for past pain and suffering and $400, 000 for future pain and suffering.
PRESENT: Lowe, III, P.J., Shulman, Hunter, Jr., , JJ
Order and judgment (one paper) (Ann E. O'Shea, J.), entered December 5, 2012, reversed, with $30 costs, and judgment directed in favor of defendants dismissing the complaint. Appeal from order (Anne E. O'Shea, J.), entered September 4, 2012, dismissed, without costs, as subsumed in the appeal from the judgment.
This action seeks damages for personal injuries allegedly sustained by plaintiff when she tripped and fell on a recessed vestibule carpet in the lobby of her apartment building. The carpet was set (and glued) into a well and surrounded by a marble floor. According to plaintiff, and as expressly found by the trial court, "[plaintiff's] shoe got caught on the area where the carpet and the marble floor met, her foot came out of her shoe, and she fell forward, landing on the right side of her face on the concrete sidewalk outside the front door."
We note, initially, that on the record now before us, it is unclear from plaintiff's testimony how her "standard flat shoe" got "stuck on the carpet... into that trim [where] the carpet was lower than the marble edge" (cf. Young v City of New York, 250 A.D.2d 383 ). Nevertheless, even affording plaintiff "every favorable inference which could reasonably be drawn from the evidence" adduced at trial (Rhabb v New York City Hous. Auth., 41 N.Y.2d 200, 202 ), she failed to establish a prima facie case of negligence, as nothing in the record supports a finding that defendants created or had actual or constructive notice of any defective condition (see Zuk v Great Atl. & Pac. Tea Co., Inc., 21 A.D.3d 275 ). The evidence showed, and it was essentially undisputed, that there were no prior complaints or prior accidents involving the carpet, which was vacuumed three times a day, and "wet vacuumed" when wet. Indeed, the trial court expressly found that "[t]here was no evidence that anyone had observed a gap between the carpet and the marble floor before [plaintiff's accident]... [t]here was no comparative measurement taken of the carpet vis a vis the stone floor before... [or]... after her fall... [and]... [t]here is thus no way to know for certain if there was any gap between the carpet and the stone floor or how great the differential was." Indeed, plaintiff makes no claim on appeal that defendants' had any actual or constructive notice of any defect.
Nor was there any evidence that defendants affirmatively created a dangerous condition (see Walsh v Super Value, Inc., 76 A.D.3d 371, 375 ; Kelly v Berberich, 36 A.D.3d 475 ; Sontag v Holiday Valley, Inc., 38 A.D.3d 1350 ; Resto v 798 Realty, LLC, 28 A.D.3d 388 ). Even were we to consider the testimony of plaintiff's expert, despite his inability to examine the carpet (cf. Landy v 6902 13th Ave. Realty Corp., 70 A.D.3d 649 ; Campanella v Marstan Pizza Corp., 280 A.D.2d 418 ), his opinion that the gap between the carpet and the marble floor resulted from the carpet losing its resiliency due to improper maintenance, was insufficient for this purpose (see Kelly v Berberich, 36 A.D.3d at 477; O'Brien v City of Schenectady, 26 A.D.3d 655, 657 ; DiGrazia v Lemmon, 28 A.D.3d 296, 298 ; see also Becovic v Poisson & Hackett, 49 A.D.3d 435 ).
Exercising our authority to review the record developed at trial and render the judgment warranted by the facts (see Northern Westchester Professional Park Assoc. v Town of Bedford, 60 N.Y.2d 492, 499 ), we conclude that plaintiff failed to establish by competent evidence any basis to impose liability upon defendants. Were we not reversing, we would find the damage awards to be excessive (see CPLR 5501[c]).