Shurack v. Iaquinta

A-3254-97T3 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 1999) (Unpublished)
  • Opinion Date: January 20, 1999

SIDEWALKS; LIABILITY—An abutting owner that repairs only a portion of the sidewalk is not liable to repair remaining portions of the sidewalk.

A pedestrian fell and injured herself while walking on a public sidewalk. The municipality’s engineer testified that no repairs had ever been made by the municipality to the sidewalk. The abutting property owner testified that the only time he made repairs to a portion of the sidewalk was after the accident. In addition, the area repaired was not the area where the pedestrian said she fell. Consequently, the pedestrian was unable to show any proof of causation between the repairs and the fall. Nonetheless, the pedestrian asserted that once a property owner makes a repair to a portion of the abutting sidewalk, the owner becomes liable for failure to repair remaining portions of the sidewalk. The Court rejected that theory stating that it was unsupported by any authority. The pedestrian also made a claim against the municipality arguing that it was liable by virtue of its failure to enforce its ordinance which required property owners to maintain the abutting public sidewalk. The Court, however, ruled in favor of the municipality, finding that the ordinance did not create a duty on the municipality to inspect all of its sidewalks and repair them upon the abutting owner’s failure to do so. To the Court, the purpose of the ordinance was to impose a duty on property owners, not the municipality.