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Can a third party rely on a lease agreement between two parties to establish liability?

New York, NY |

Person A slips and falls on ice outside B's premises. The lease between B and C notes that B is responsible for ice removal, though this was not always the practice. Can A rely on the lease between B and C to establish liability? Or does A need to be a third party beneficiary? Are there any statutes/case law on this?

Attorney Answers 3


  1. The lease has no effect on the liability under the law for ice removal. Statutes and common law create liability. Sometimes the city or municipality has a duty, particularly if the city has undertaken the duty before. The biggest source of liability in New York is the commencement of efforts to remove the ice that caused the accident, but doing it in a negligent way. If the ice formed naturally, and not from a broken rain spout or the tenant's hose used to clean the sidewalk, then no one might be liable if the storm (rain, snow, sleet, etc.) that caused the slippery conditions was still on-going when the injury occurred. No one has a duty to clear ice and snow from sidewalks when the storm is still on-going, or if enough time has not gone by where most reasonable premises owners or tenants would have cleaned the naturally forming ice away. Once you start cleaning then you can be liable.

    A lease can be relevant to notice of the duty to clear, or who purchased the liability insurance, or in a fight between the defendants, but if you can sue both landowner, city, plow company supplying the shovelers and the tenants, sue them all and let the insurance companies straighten it out. In a law suit involving premises liability usually, the more the merrier, unless it is a construction project with a dozen subcontractors.

    The opinion rendered herein is subject to change after a full interview of the party seeking a legal opinion, the execution of a retainer agreement and a full review of all relevant agreements, insurance contracts, correspondence and relevant medical records and documents. The foregoing opinion was based solely on the limited writtin information provided, and is subject to change on receipt of additional information and research. No valid contract of legal retention is intended by providing the generic information herein set forth.


  2. The NYC Administrative Code and case law both govern the responsibilities of property owners in snow and ice situations in the City (Sec. 16-123). As suggested by Mr. Clarke, put everyone on notice and let the insurance companies sort out the relative responsibilities.

    Disclaimer- The information you obtain at our web-site or through postings on such sites as this is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for specific advice regarding your individual situation. Any response given here is not intended to create, nor does it create an ongoing duty to respond to questions. The response does not form an attorney-client relationship, nor is it intended to be relied upon as legal advice. The response given is based upon the limited facts provided by the person asking the question. To the extent additional or different facts exist, the response may change appropriately.


  3. The answer is YES, the lease agreement can be used by A, to establish that B undertook the responsibility for snow/ice removal. A would be advised to include both B and C in any lawsuit for the condition of ice. The lease will be helpful in proving A's case agaainst B.

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