Summary Judgment Granted in Case Involving Property Owners & Managers

In Xiomara Astacio v. Birdie 141 Broadway Associates, et. al., MMP&S successfully obtained summary judgment dismissing all claims brought by the plaintiff against multiple Insured property owners/property managers, seeking over $1 Million in damages for significant and disfiguring burn injuries. Plaintiff was a tenant in one of the apartment units located within the Insured’s building in Manhattan. When ConEdison and the City of New York discovered a leak in the main gas supply line to the building, gas service to the premises was shut off pending repair and replacement of the gas line. To accommodate the tenants who were no longer able to use their apartment unit gas stoves/ovens, the Insureds purchased and provided to each tenant a 2-burner electric tabletop burner to utilize until gas service to the building was restored.

While cooking in her apartment on the date of loss, Plaintiff alleged that, unbeknownst to her, the electric stove spontaneously turned on, causing a pot of oil (which Plaintiff had placed on the burner) to reach boiling. Plaintiff then accidentally knocked a can of food into the pot, causing the boiling oil to splash on to her chest and thighs, resulting in second and third degree burns. Although Plaintiff ‘s Complaint presented allegations strongly identifying a cause of action for strict products liability, Plaintiff presented her claims as premises liability/negligence, alleging that the Insureds negligently provided her with a faulty 2-burner electric tabletop burner unit. At the close of discovery, MMP&S moved for summary judgment on the ground that the Insureds had no prior notice of any specific alleged dangerous condition regarding the 2-burner electric burner units and on the ground that Plaintiff’s negligence constituted the intervening/superseding cause of her alleged accident.

Plaintiff responded with a cross-motion ─ almost 5 years after the alleged date of loss ─ seeking leave to serve an Amended Complaint asserting strict products liability causes of action against the Insureds, as well as the manufacturer and local distributor of the subject electric burner stove. The Court not only granted summary judgment in favor of the Insureds, it also denied Plaintiff’s cross motion to amend, holding that property owners/property managers like the Insureds ─ as a matter of law ─ are not within the chain of product distribution and, therefore, not proper defendants for the proposed strict products liability claims.

Practice Area

General & Product Liability