DABNIS v. WEST ISLIP PUBLIC LIBRARY

Reset A A Font size: Print

Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department, New York.

Sophia DABNIS, etc., et al., appellants, v. WEST ISLIP PUBLIC LIBRARY, respondent, et al., defendants.

Decided: November 27, 2007

ROBERT W. SCHMIDT, J.P., REINALDO E. RIVERA, ANITA R. FLORIO, and RUTH C. BALKIN, JJ. Steven Cohn, P.C., Carle Place, N.Y. (Melissa A. Lenowitz of counsel), for appellants. Hammill, O'Brien, Croutier, Dempsey & Pender, P.C., Syosset, N.Y. (Anton Piotroski of counsel), for respondent.

In an action to recover damages for personal injuries, etc., the plaintiffs appeal from an order of the Supreme Court, Suffolk County (Doyle, J.), dated July 20, 2006, which granted the motion of the defendant West Islip Public Library for summary judgment dismissing the complaint insofar as asserted against it.

ORDERED that the order is affirmed, with costs.

The infant plaintiff, then 1 1/212 years old, was allegedly injured as a result of an unexplained fall while “toddling” in an aisle at the defendant West Islip Public Library (hereinafter the Library).   Upon falling, the infant plaintiff struck her head on a fixed metal shelf divider on a library bookshelf.   The infant plaintiff and her mother, the plaintiff Christa Dabnis, commenced this action against the Library, among others, alleging that the Library was negligent in placing a divider with sharp unprotected edges in a section of the library designated for children.   The Library successfully moved for summary judgment dismissing the complaint insofar as asserted against it.   We affirm.

 To establish a prima facie case of negligence, a plaintiff must demonstrate the existence of a duty owed by the defendant to the plaintiff, a breach of that duty, and that the breach was a proximate cause of the plaintiff's injury (see Pulka v. Edelman, 40 N.Y.2d 781, 782, 390 N.Y.S.2d 393, 358 N.E.2d 1019;  Kipybida v. Good Samaritan Hosp., 35 A.D.3d 544, 545, 827 N.Y.S.2d 201).   Owners and business proprietors have a duty to maintain their property “ ‘in a reasonably safe condition in view of all the circumstances, including the likelihood of injury to others, the seriousness of the injury, and the burden of avoiding the risk’ ” (Peralta v. Henriquez, 100 N.Y.2d 139, 143, 760 N.Y.S.2d 741, 790 N.E.2d 1170, quoting Basso v. Miller, 40 N.Y.2d 233, 241, 386 N.Y.S.2d 564, 352 N.E.2d 868;  see Koppel v. Hebrew Academy of Five Towns, 191 A.D.2d 415, 594 N.Y.S.2d 310).

 The Supreme Court properly held that the Library established its prima facie entitlement to judgment as a matter of law, since its property was in a reasonably safe condition, and it breached no duty to the infant plaintiff (see Rygel v. 8750 Bay Parkway, LLC, 16 A.D.3d 572, 792 N.Y.S.2d 160).   There is no contention, or factual support for any contention, that the metal dividers were hidden or concealed, or caused the infant plaintiff's fall.   Indeed, the plaintiffs failed to elucidate the cause of the infant plaintiff's fall in the first instance (see Hennington v. Ellington, 22 A.D.3d 721, 804 N.Y.S.2d 395;  Tejada v. Jonas, 17 A.D.3d 448, 792 N.Y.S.2d 605;  Burnstein v. Mandalay Caterers, 306 A.D.2d 428, 761 N.Y.S.2d 494).   As such, the plaintiffs, in opposing the motion, failed to raise a triable issue of fact with respect to negligence and proximate cause (see Alvarez v. Prospect Hosp., 68 N.Y.2d 320, 324, 508 N.Y.S.2d 923, 501 N.E.2d 572;  Rogan v. Federated Dept. Stores, 141 A.D.2d 522, 529 N.Y.S.2d 139).

Copied to clipboard