Repairs to Pothole Over One Year Before Accident Defeats Injury Claim Against City of New York

In Abott v. City of New York, the Appellate Division, First Department affirmed a directed verdict for the defendant City of New York.

Plaintiff sued to recover for injuries sustained after stepping into a pothole.

This scenario implicates New York City’s “Pothole Law”, codified as New York City Administrative Code § 7-201. Section 7-201(c)(2) of that statute

contains a “written acknowledgement” provision which permits a lawsuit “where there is documentary evidence showing, as clearly as written notice to DOT would show, that the City knew of the hazard and had an opportunity to remedy it” (Bruni v City of New York, 2 NY3d 319, 326 [2004]). However, repair orders or reports, reflecting only that pothole repairs had been made to the subject area more than a year before the accident, are insufficient to constitute prior written notice of the defect that allegedly caused a plaintiff’s injuries.

In this case, “the record demonstrates that plaintiff presented no evidence or testimony which contradicted the City’s documentation showing that the subject defect had been repaired, closed, and made safe, more than a year prior to the accident.”

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