New York Casualty Group Secures a Pair of Summary Judgment Victories

Foran Glennon’s New York Casualty Group recently secured a pair of summary judgment victories in New York Supreme Court cases involving claims of false arrest and construction worksite injury.

Associate Allison Burbage represented a supermarket client in Queens County in a case where the plaintiff alleged that she was wrongly accused of using a stolen credit card by the client’s employees and “falsely arrested and detained” by police.

During discovery, Allison established that prior to the plaintiff’s detainment, two male shoppers were observed in the supermarket using stolen credit cards. Subsequently, the supermarket manager reported the activities of these men to the police and was instructed to contact the police if the men ever returned. On the day of the alleged false arrest, the supermarket manager observed one of the men standing in a check-out line behind the plaintiff and called the police. He did not suggest to the police that the plaintiff was involved in any criminal activity. Nevertheless, the police officers mistakenly detained the plaintiff in the parking lot.

Allison argued that under New York law, a private entity cannot be held liable for a false arrest merely by seeking police assistance or furnishing information to authorities, who are then free to determine whether or not an arrest should be made.

In its decision, the Court adopted Allison’s argument that the client had not encouraged, directed or facilitated the plaintiff’s false arrest and/or detention and could not be held liable simply by having contacted the police to report the activities of a different shopper. Accordingly, the Court dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint.

In a separate case handled by associate Vincent Passarelli, a potential seven-figure construction site injury claim was dismissed on behalf of our client in Rockland County Supreme Court.

The plaintiff was an employee of a subcontractor who was injured after falling from a ladder while performing siding work. In the motion, Vincent argued that under New Jersey law, the client could not be held liable because:

  • The client, a general contractor, was afforded immunity from liability under New Jersey law;
  • None of the exceptions to the immunity rule applied;
  • The client did not violate any OSHA regulations; and
  • Notwithstanding, a duty cannot be created based solely upon violation of OSHA regulations.

Despite the plaintiff’s opposition, which included an affidavit from a purported expert, the Court granted the motion. Applying relevant New Jersey case law, the Court agreed with Vincent’s arguments that the general contractor did not owe a duty to the plaintiff and was afforded general contractor immunity.

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