FDNY Sued for Injury to Civilian

A woman who claims she was struck by a firefighter’s tool that fell from a door has filed a personal injury suit against the City of New York. Edith Guttenplan filed suit Monday in Kings County Supreme Court claiming she suffered “severe and permanent injuries”.

The incident occurred on October 30, 2016 at 3310 Nostrand Avenue in Brooklyn while firefighters were on scene of an emergency call. Guttenplan claims that a firefighter placed “a firefighter tool, similar to a pickaxe against a door”, and that she was injured when the tool fell. She is seeking undisclosed damages for medical bills, personal injuries, pain and suffering.

From the complaint:

  • On October 30, 2016, defendant, City of New York, and its servants, agents, supervisees, employees and representatives, including the New York City Fire Department, and its servants, agents, supervisees, employees and representatives, operated the firefighter tool, similar to a pickaxe at aforesaid premises.
  • That at all times hereinafter mentioned, on October 30, 2016, defendant, City of New York, and its servants, agents, supervisees, employees and representatives, including the New York City Fire Department, and its servants, agents, supervisees, employees and representatives, had a duty to supervise, instruct, educate and monitor their agents, servants, assigns, employees and/or licensees, with respect to the proper manner of owning, controlling, operating, managing and maintaining the firefighter tool, similar to a pickaxe at the aforesaid premises to ensure that it was safe and free from defects, dangers and hazards.
  • That on October 30, 2016, said accident was caused when defendant, City of New York, and its servants, agents, supervisees, employees and representatives, including the New York City Fire Department, and its servants, agents, supervisees, employees and representatives, breached its duty to plaintiff to own, manage, control, operate, and maintain the premises free from hazards, defects and dangers, thereby causing and creating a dangerous condition that caused the accident described herein.
  • That on October 30, 2016, said accident was caused when defendant, City of New York, and its servants, agents, supervisees, employees and representatives, including the New York City Fire Department, and its servants, agents, supervisees, employees and representatives, breached its duty to instruct, educate, monitor, supervise and observe their employees, agents, servants and representatives to ensure that the aforesaid premises was properly owned, managed, controlled, operated, and maintained to ensure there were no defective, hazardous and danger conditions at the premises, thereby causing and creating a dangerous condition that caused the accident described herein.
  • That at all times herein mentioned, the placement of the firefighter tool, similar to a pickaxe against a door within said premises constituted a dangerous, hazardous and defective condition that caused the accident described herein.
  • That on October 30, 2016, while plaintiff, Edith Guttenplan, was lawfully present within the aforesaid premises, she was struck by the firefighter tool that had been placed against a door and fell from where it was placed within the aforesaid premises, causing her to sustain severe and permanent injuries as a result of the aforesaid condition.
  • That the above-mentioned defective condition and occurrence were caused and created by the negligence of Defendants and/or their agents, servants, representatives and employees, in the negligent ownership, operation, maintenance, control, and management of the firefighter tool, similar to a pickaxe at the aforesaid premises without any fault or negligence on the part of the plaintiff contributing thereto.

Here is a copy of the complaint: Guttenplan v City of New York

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 45 years of fire service experience and 35 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014, 4th ed. 2022) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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