“Negligent Security” Premises Liability Claims in New York

One type of personal injury (negligence) claim is the so-called “negligent security” claim – which is itself a type of “premises liability” claim.

In this type of case, the plaintiff asserts that the property owner or landlord failed to take necessary precautions to prevent harm arising from the alleged failure to provide adequate security. (One fact pattern that might give rise to such a claim is the one presented in the greatest Christmas movie ever made.)

Here is the law, as summarized by the New York Appellate Division, Second Department:

Landlords have a common-law duty to take minimal precautions to protect tenants from foreseeable harm, including foreseeable criminal conduct by a third person[.] … To establish foreseeability, there is no requirement that the past experience of criminal activity be of the same type as that to which the plaintiff was subjected[.] … However, the criminal conduct at issue must be shown to be reasonably predictable based on the prior occurrence of the same or similar criminal activity at a location sufficiently proximate to the subject location[.]

George v 855 Ocean Avenue, LLC, No. 2016-01499, 4840/08, 86 N.Y.S.3d 564, 565–66, 2018 N.Y. Slip Op. 07100, 2018 WL 5274270, (N.Y.A.D. 2 Dept., Oct. 24, 2018).

In the George case, the court affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff’s “negligent security” claim, noting that “defendant established its prima facie entitlement to judgment as a matter of law by demonstrating that it lacked notice of any prior occurrences of the same or similar criminal activity at or near the subject premises.” It rejected plaintiff’s reliance on alleged prior criminal conduct at the building, reasoning that those “prior incidents, which mostly occurred inside apartments, were not sufficiently similar in nature and location to the instant offense so as to have placed the defendant on notice that additional security measures were required, including a locking door to the vestibule area with an exterior intercom buzzer system[.]”

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