Provides that limited liability for persons held jointly liable shall not apply to parties held liable for failing to provide reasonable security or failing to provide security required by federal, state or local law, rules or regulations.
TITLE OF BILL:
to amend the civil practice law and rules, in relation to limited
liability of persons jointly liable
To provide that limited liability for persons held jointly liable
shall not apply to parties held liable for failing to provide
security as required by law, rule, or regulation
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:
Section one amends section 1602 of the civil practice law and rules by
adding a new subdivision (14) to provide that limitations on
liability will not apply to any person who owns, manages, and/or
controls property or provides security for said property who fails to
provide security as required by law, rule, or regulation.
Section two provides the effective date and that the law shall apply
to causes of action commenced or pending on or after such date.
Where a tenant is raped by an intruder who gained access to the
tenant's building through a defect in the building's security, New
York is among a small number of states that asks a jury to apportion
liability between the rapist and the negligent landlord who failed to
keep the building secure. This leads to an unintended and bizarre
result when the victim attempts to recover damages from the negligent
landlord for the personal injury suffered at the hands of the rapist.
Under current law, if the negligent landlord is found to be 50% or
less liable for the injury, the landlord's liability is limited to
his "equitable share" based on the "relative culpability" of each
person contributing to the total liability. The only time this
limitation, on liability of the landlord is not imposed is when the
other person contributing to the liability, i.e. the rapist, cannot
Accordingly, in the case of the raped tenant, a jury will likely find
the rapist to be more than 50%, if not 100%, liable for the victim's
injury, freeing the landlord from liability, even though the landlord
failed to maintain adequate security at the time of the assault.
There is another curious consequence that results, from the
application of this limitation on liability. Current law provides
that the limitation on liability is not applied where the other
person responsible for the victim's injury cannot be found. So in the
case of the raped tenant, if the rapist cannot be found, the
limitation on liability of the landlord will not be imposed and the
victim may be able to recover fully for damages against the landlord
for his failing to provide
reasonable security. If, on the other hand, the rapist is found, the
victim will likely recover little, if any, damages from the landlord
since the limitation of liability will be applied based on the
landlord's "relative culpability." The landlord's relative
culpability will likely be deemed to be small as compared to the
rapist's culpability, and almost all of the liability imposed, on the
One may surmise that the odds of recovering damages from the rapist
Current law, then, forces the victim to choose between cooperating
with law enforcement to find her attacker and bring him to justice
and not seeking to identify her assailant so that she can recover
damages 100% from the landlord in her personal injury action. Prior
to 2002, New York courts generally held that the law requiring
apportionment of liability did not apply to personal injury actions
involving a negligent actor (i.e. a landlord) and an intentional
wrongdoer (i.e. a criminal who commits assault). Yet the Court of
Appeals in 2002 required allocation of liability, noting that the
legislature would need to modify the law to clarify its intent
regarding apportionment in these types of cases.
This bill will make clear that allocation of liability will not apply
to person who owns, manages, and/or controls property or provides
security for said property for failing to provide security as
required by law, rule, or regulation.
This act shall take effect immediately.
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