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City of White Plains is Not Immune from Liability for Negligent Security

For those handling security cases, Granata v. City of New York, out of the Appellate Division 2nd Dept in 2014 and the resulting motion at the Supreme Court level at 8303/2007, NYLJ 1202741786603 (Upstate New York Supreme 2015), are must reads. The Court held that the City of White Plains (“the City”) was acting in a proprietary capacity with respect to its ownership and operation of a parking garage in White Plains. As such, the City was subject to the principles of tort law in negligent security cases and the Court concluded the City owed a duty to the decedent to take minimal safety precautions to protect its tenants and invitees from foreseeable harm. In this case, the decedent was murdered by a homeless man inside the garage (the murderer was convicted and sentenced to 25 years to life). All claims sounding in a failure to provide police protection were dismissed.

The case is a must read for those handling security cases because the Court specifically addresses (and cites to case law) with respect to the issues of foreseeability, including the issues of prior criminal activity, the location of that activity, the types of crimes committed and statistics with respect to prior criminal activity as well as what safety precautions were undertaken by the City and whether same were reasonable and sufficient. Notably, the  plaintiff did not introduce testimony from any type of security expert, but it ultimately did not matter.

The City, following a trial, moved to set aside the jury’s verdict and dismiss the complaint or, in the alternative, for a new trial as to liability and to set aside the jury’s award of damages.

Not surprisingly, the Court rejected every claim made by the City and denied the City’s motion in its entirety.

By Jason Katz, Esq.


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