Florence v. Goldberg

44 N.Y.2d 189, 404 N.Y.S.2d 583, 375 N.E.2d 763 (1978)



To sustain liability against a municipality, the duty breached must be more than a duty owing to the general public. There must exist a special relationship between the municipality and the plaintiff, resulting in the creation of a duty to use due care for the benefit of particular persons or classes of persons.


Appellant municipality sought review of judgment in appellees' favor, in a personal injury action where appellee's child was severely injured while crossing the street from school. Appellee argued that she relied upon appellant's prior provision of school crossing guards and the failure to do so on the day of the accident constituted negligence. Appellant argued a municipality acting in its governmental capacity was not liable for failure to furnish adequate protection. The court rejected appellant's argument and affirmed the judgment.


Is appellant, through its police department, liable for negligence in its failure to provide a school crossing guard--a particular duty to a special class?




A municipality whose police department voluntarily assumed a duty to supervise school crossings could be held liable for the negligent omission to provide a guard at the designated crossing or notify the school to take other appropriate action. The court determined that appellant undertook a special duty for the benefit of a limited class of children crossing, to supervise the crossings or notify of the inability to do so as required under precinct regulations. Having voluntarily assumed the duty, appellant had an obligation to continue its performance non-negligently. The court noted that appellee relied on the protection afforded.

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