Hickey Smith Dodd recognizes contributions to client success
Jody C. Benard, Partner and New York Team Leader for the firm’s Insurance Defense Practice Group, recently obtained summary judgment in favor of a commercial property owner/landlord client of the firm. She then used that decision to recover all defense fees and costs from a Co-Defendant.
Plaintiff commenced a lawsuit against both the property owner/landlord (the firm’s client) and a commercial tenant who occupied the premises, operating a furniture store therein. Plaintiff claimed that as she was walking on the sidewalk adjacent to the premises, she was struck by a large piece of plywood (which allegedly had been blown into her by a gust of wind) causing her to fall into a cart owned by the furniture store. Plaintiff claimed that both the property owner and its tenant operating the furniture store were responsible for maintaining the sidewalk in a reasonably safe condition but failed to do so by leaving the plywood and the cart on the sidewalk. The property owner and tenant each filed cross-claims against the other.
The property owner prevailed on a summary judgment motion against both the Plaintiff and the Co-Defendant tenant. Ms. Benard successfully argued that the property owner was an out-of-possession landlord who neither operated nor worked at the premises and, therefore, had no notice of the transitory condition complained of by Plaintiff. She further persuaded the court that both the Plaintiff and Co-Defendant had failed to demonstrate that the plywood left on the sidewalk constituted a structural defect or statutory violation that would have triggered liability under the NYC Administrative Code §7-210, which requires property owners to maintain adjacent sidewalks in a reasonably safe condition.
In a separate decision, the court denied the furniture store/tenant’s motion for summary judgment against the property owner. Ms. Benard persuaded the court that the property owner could not be found liable to the tenant because it was an out-of-possession landlord and the lease provided for the tenant to clean and clear the sidewalk. Based on the court’s decision, Ms. Benard was able to recover all of the property owner’s defense fees and costs.
The case is Smith v Dubai Furniture III Corp et al.; Index No. 714837/2019, New York Supreme Court, Queens County
About Hickey Smith Dodd
Hickey Smith Dodd is a law firm purposely designed to deliver legal services with significantly greater efficiency, consistency, and added value. By deconstructing and refining traditional legal processes, applying workflow technology, and collecting and analyzing data, Hickey Smith Dodd is transforming the way legal services are delivered today. With an unrivaled combination of disciplined processes, technology expertise, and business leadership, Hickey Smith Dodd clients benefit from reduced total legal spend, improved quality, enhanced transparency, actionable insight, simplified management of outside counsel, and increased control. For more information, visit hickeysmith.com.
David Hickey, Managing Partner – 626.737.9505
Christian Dodd, Legal Operations Partner – 904.374.4238