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Appellate Division upholds Supreme Court decision dismissing man’s action against city

ALBANY — The state Appellate Division on Thursday agreed with a prior state Supreme Court decision dismissing the case of a man who sued the city of Amsterdam for negligence because he was injured five years ago on a city street.

A civil Supreme Court case from Montgomery County involving plaintiff Christopher F. Cook versus the city of Amsterdam was affirmed this week by appellate judges in Albany.

In October 2014, Cook allegedly sustained injuries when he stepped into a hole and fell while walking upon a roadway in the city of Amsterdam. Following that incident, he launched negligence action against the city of Amsterdam to recover damages for personal injuries.

Thursday’s decision noted the city eventually moved for summary judgment to dismiss the complaint “on the basis that it had not received prior written notice of the defective condition of the roadway as required by Local Law No. 2 (1997) of the city of Amsterdam.”

State Supreme Court Justice Joseph Sise in Montgomery County on April 27, 2018 granted the city of Amsterdam’s motion for summary judgment, dismissing the complaint. Cook appealed, and the Appellate Division on Thursday affirmed Sise’s ruling.

Appellate judges ruled the city of Amsterdam “cannot be held liable unless such written notice of the allegedly defective or dangerous condition was actually given … Accordingly, this action may proceed only if prior written notice of the alleged defect was filed in the office of either the Department of Public Works or the City Clerk in compliance with Local Law No. 2.”

The Appellate Division said that the city “met its initial burden” of showing the absence of prior written notice by submitting affidavits and deposition testimony from custodians of the records of the offices of both the City Clerk and the Department of Public Works.” Both offices revealed no written notice of any defect was received for the relevant street area.

Cook submitted proof that the city had received two “verbal complaints” about the condition of the area prior to the date of Cook’s accident that led to an inspection by city personnel and preparation of a written work order for repairs. But verbal reports do not satisfy the prior written notice requirement in Local Law No. 2, the decision said.

In this case, actual notice of an alleged defect “does not override the statutory requirement of prior written notice,” the decision stated.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.

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