News 11.06.23

Segal McCambridge Secures Dismissal in High-Stakes Negligence Case

Segal McCambridge secured the dismissal of a negligence action against W.J. Northridge Construction Corp. (“Northridge”) in a case involving complex questions of local building code compliance, among other things. In Marvin v. Shelter Rock and W.J. Northridge (Supreme Court, Nassau County ).

Plaintiff tripped and fell on the exterior stairs of the church when she left a baptism, thereby sustaining significant personal injuries including bilateral orbital fractures, a left wrist fracture, and a subdural hematoma. She claimed that the exterior stairs (which were previously constructed by Northridge) that had a broken nosing and lacked a center handrail for her to grasp onto before she fell. Northridge was the general contractor and construction manager for the renovations made to the church building. Segal McCambridge demonstrated that the stairs were completed in 2015, and that they were free of defects. Northridge adduced proof that the exterior stairs were reasonably safe at all times relevant to the alleged accident and code-compliant with local codes and requirements. Northridge further provided an engineering expert who opined that the exterior stairway, including the upper landing, lower landing, treads, risers, and handrails present at the time of the accident, was properly constructed by Northridge. Moreover, since Northridge completed its work four years prior to the accident, it could not be held liable for the subsequent defective condition of the stairs nosing, as alleged by Plaintiff.

Justice Conrad D. Singer noted the burden upon summary judgment is “a heavy one”, but that Plaintiffs could not meet the same. In particular, he focused on a “feigned affidavit of fact” submitted by Plaintiff’s husband that was tailored to avoid the impact of his prior testimony. In contrast, Northridge (and co-defendant) provided expert evidence regarding the construction and maintenance of the exterior stairs and highlighted Plaintiff’s speculation about the cause of the accident.

Senior Associate Nicholas Gisonda represented Northridge.