Too Trivial to Be Actionable

by Andrew J. Petersen

Recognizing the earth is not flat, New York’s premises liability law holds:

A property owner may not be cast in damages for negligent maintenance by reason of trivial defects on a walkway, not constituting a trap or nuisance as a consequence of which a pedestrian might merely stumble, stub his [or her] toes, or trip over a raised projection.

Chirumbolo v. 78 Exch. St., LLC, 137 A.D.3d 1358 (2016). This “too trivial to be actionable” doctrine holds that courts can decide as a matter of law the condition is not unreasonably dangerous by considering “such relevant factors as the dimensions of the alleged defect and the circumstances surrounding the injury, including the width, depth, elevation, irregularity, and appearance of the defect as well as the time, place, and circumstances of the injury.” Id. New York also rejects allowing a plaintiff to use the Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility standards as a safety standard of care. Id. at 1360. 

For the complete article, contact Humphrey & Petersen, P.C. at rdesk@humphreyandpetersen.com, or call (520) 795-1900.