Court of Appeals Rules Landlord May Be Held Liable For Targeted Killings Facilitated By Non-Functioning Exterior Door Locks

On May 23, 2023 the NY Court of Appeals addressed two cases involving the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) and negligence claims are discussed. In both cases, tenants were attacked by intruders who entered their buildings through exterior doors that were assumed to have non-functioning locks. The plaintiffs sued NYCHA for negligence, alleging that the lack of proper security measures contributed to the attacks. NYCHA argued that because the attacks were targeted, their negligence was not the proximate cause of the deaths.

The court reaffirms that general negligence principles apply in cases where tenants are harmed by third-party criminal attacks. NYCHA's duty to provide minimal security precautions, such as functioning locks, is emphasized. The court states that the fact that an attack is targeted does not automatically sever the causal connection between the landlord's negligence and the plaintiff's injuries. The court concludes that questions of fact exist regarding whether NYCHA's negligence proximately caused the deaths, and these issues should be determined by a jury. Scurry v New York City Hous. Auth., 2023 NY Slip Op. 02752

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