Gordon v. Amer. Museum of Nat. History

67 N.Y.2d 836, 501 N.Y.S.2d 646, 492 N.E.2d 774 (1986)



To constitute constructive notice, a defect must be visible and apparent and it must exist for a sufficient length of time prior to an accident to permit defendant's employees to discover and remedy it.


Plaintiff injured party was hurt when he fell on defendant property owner's front entrance steps. Plaintiff testified that the waxy paper that he slipped on came from the concession stand that defendant had contracted to have present and that defendant was negligent because its employees failed to discover and remove the paper before he fell on it. The jury found against defendant, and the court affirmed the decision. Defendant appealed and the order was reversed.



Did defendant have constructive notice of the waxy paper, which caused plaintiff's accident?




The reviewing court stated there was no evidence in the record that defendant had actual notice of the paper and that the case should not have gone to the jury on that theory. The record contained no evidence that anyone, including plaintiff, observed the piece of waxy paper prior to the accident. Thus, the piece of paper that caused the injured plaintiff's fall could have been deposited there only minutes or seconds before the accident, and any other conclusion would have been pure speculation. The evidence failed to establish that the defendant had constructive notice of the particular condition that caused the fall.

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