New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

RUDNICK v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2000-014-103, Claim No. 92134


The State is found 75% liable for injuries sustained by the claimant, as the result of a fall which was caused by broken pavement at the State University of New York Health Science Center in Brooklyn.

Case Information

Claimant short name:
Footnote (claimant name) :

Footnote (defendant name) :

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
Motion number(s):

Cross-motion number(s):

S. Michael Nadel
Claimant's attorney:
Ross, Suchoff, Hankin, Maidenbaum, Handwerker & Mazel, P.C.By: Mark L. Hankin, Esq.
Defendant's attorney:
Eliot L. Spitzer, Attorney GeneralBy: Ellen S. Mendelson, Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
May 30, 2000
New York

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


On May 11, 1995, as she was exiting the premises of the State University of New York Health Science Center at 445 Lennox Road, Brooklyn, the claimant Irma Rudnick fell down several steps outside the building. She seeks to hold the defendant liable for her injuries, which, it is alleged, were caused by the condition of the pavement where she fell, located at the top of the steps, leading from one level of a plaza area to another.

The condition of the pavement was described by the claimant[1]
as being cracked, broken, and disintegrating. Five photographs, taken the day after her accident, confirm her description. At the time of the accident, the claimant had been employed for eight years as an office manager by the Research Foundation of New York, which was located in the Health Science Center Building. She testified that she had exited the building the same way every day for over a year, and occasionally before that, and that she was aware of the condition of the pavement, which had existed during the time she worked there. According to her testimony, repairs had been attempted on several occasions over the years, the most recent being approximately a month before she fell, but that the condition persisted.
The claimant testified that, on May 11, 1995 in the afternoon, as she reached the top of the steps, and reached for the railing, her foot became caught in the loose pavement, causing her to fall down five steps.

While the State has a duty of reasonable care to maintain its premises in a reasonably safe condition (
Basso v Miller, 40 NY2d 233, 241), negligence cannot be inferred solely from the occurrence of an accident (Mochen v State of New York, 57 AD2d 719, 720). Before there can be liability there must be proof of a dangerous condition which was the proximate cause of the injury, and that the defendant had notice of the condition.
Based upon the claimant's testimony, which the Court found credible, and the five photographs of the location of the accident, which were received in evidence, it is evident that a dangerous condition existed, and that repairs had been attempted at some time, so that the defendant had notice of the condition.

But, claimant must also be held partially culpable.[2]
It has long been the law of this State that a person is bound to see what, with proper use of one's senses, should have been seen. Weigand v United Traction Co., 221 NY 39; Jimenez v Urban Universal Structures, Inc., 174 AD2d 604, 605. By her own account, the claimant had safely traversed the same area on nearly a daily basis for at least a year, and on an occasional basis over a period of several years, during which time she was aware of the condition of the pavement.
In view of the foregoing, the Court finds the defendant 75% liable for claimant's injuries.
See, Kiett v New York City Housing Authority, 255 AD2d 422, 423.
The issue of damages will be set down for trial upon the filing of a note of issue and certificate of readiness pursuant to Rule 206.12 of the Uniform Rules for the Court of Claims.


May 30, 2000
New York, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

[1]References herein to claimant are to Irma Rudnick.
[2]As pleaded in the defendant's Third Affirmative Defense.