New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

MEYER v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2009-033-597, Claim No. 113623


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):

James J. Lack
Claimant’s attorney:
Arthur V. Graseck, Jr., Esq.
Defendant’s attorney:
Andrew M. Cuomo, New York State Attorney GeneralBy: John L. Belford, IV, Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant’s attorney:

Signature date:
September 21, 2009

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


This is a timely filed claim of Dennis Meyer (hereinafter “claimant”) based upon the alleged negligence of the State of New York (hereinafter “defendant”). On November 13, 2008, a bifurcated trial was held on the issue of liability.

The incident occurred on September 26, 2005, at approximately 9:30 p.m. at the C.K. Post (hereinafter “Post”) drug treatment facility in Brentwood, New York. Claimant was a patient at Post at the time of the incident.

The first person to testify was Joseph Lombardi. Mr. Lombardi was also a patient at Post and had been there about a week before the accident. Mr. Lombardi had been on the treadmill and when he got off, the treadmill was still on. The witness noticed claimant attempt to get on the treadmill a couple of minutes later and watched him fall. Mr. Lombardi described the exercise room as a basement, “kind of dark”, and a loud radio playing. Mr. Lombardi stated a state employee would come by, look around inside, turn the radio down and then leave. When the employee would leave, someone would turn the radio volume up. Mr. Lombardi described the safety device as an armband and key connected to the machine and the user. If the user chose to wear the armband, then the machine would stop if the user stepped or fell off the machine. Mr. Lombardi said the armband was cut off the safety device.

On cross-examination, the witness said the lighting was sufficient to see across the room, and down to the floor without problem. The witness conceded the safety device only worked if it was attached to a person. The device did not prevent the machine from running on its own. The witness said the state employee would sit at a desk and only occasionally he would leave to check other areas.

Prior to the incident, claimant had been at Post since September 13, 2005. Claimant used the treadmill after Joseph Lombardi. Claimant had used this machine only one other time. He never noticed there was a safety device on this machine. The supervisor was not present at the time of the incident. Claimant says that he could not see the treadmill was running because the belt was black and he could not hear it running because the radio was loud.

On cross-examination, claimant described the treadmill as having a separate on and off switch to operate the belt. The safety device could only turn the machine off if the key was pulled from the machine. Claimant testified he does not remember looking down at the machine, he just stepped onto it and went flying.

As the owner and operator of the gym, the State’s duty is to use reasonable care in maintaining the property in a reasonably safe condition to prevent the occurrence of foreseeable injuries (Basso v Miller, 40 NY2d 233; Valentine v State of New York, 192 Misc 2d 706). The duty of care is limited by claimant's reasonable expectations under the circumstances. The defendant's obligation in such a situation is to make the premises as safe as they appear to be so that claimant can fully comprehend and see the risks which will be assumed (Drew v State of New York, 146 AD2d 847; see also Walter v State of New York, 185 AD2d 536). A landowner has no duty to warn of an open and obvious danger that can be readily observed by the use of one’s senses (Tagle v Jakob, 97 NY2d 165).

In the instant case, there is no evidence to show the treadmill was malfunctioning and, assuming arguendo a malfunction was proven, that defendant was aware or should have been aware of it. The treadmill in question had a separate on/off switch to operate it. There is no evidence Mr. Lombardi ever turned the machine off when he was finished. The safety device being cut is irrelevant to the case at bar. The safety device is not the on/off switch for the machine. In addition, it is clear to the Court, claimant never looked at the machine before attempting to get on the treadmill.

Based upon the foregoing, the Court finds in favor of defendant and dismisses the claim. All motions not specifically ruled upon are denied.

Let judgment be entered accordingly.

September 21, 2009
Hauppauge, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims