Two recent cases in the First and Second Department examine landowner liability when criminal acts occur on their property. Both incidents were premeditated and targeted and, as far as the landowner knew, were spontaneous and unexpected. The courts took markedly different approaches in analyzing precedent and arriving at their holdings.
Landowners have a common-law duty to take minimal precautions to mitigate reasonably foreseeable third-party criminal acts on their premises. Scurry v. New York City Hous. Auth., 92 A.D.3d 821, 823 (2d Dept. 2021). Although landowners are not insurers of their guest’s safety, they are liable for claims if they are negligent in their duty to protect them. Doe v. Turnmill, 193 A.D.3d 618 (2021). Plaintiffs need to establish that the criminal events were foreseeable and that the landowner had prior notice of the criminal conduct.