In the case of McNally v. Sabban, plaintiff Thomas J. McNally fell down the stairway of a residential rental building owned by the defendants. In a personal injury case brought in the Bronx County Supreme Court, McNally alleged that a number of building violations -- like "defects in door openings, headroom, lack of a hand rail, risers, treads, stair geometry, possible roof leak and an improper location of a light switch" -- were the cause of his fall. Hospital records and testimony presented by the building's owners confirmed that the plaintiff was "probably extremely intoxicated" when the accident occurred.
When the owners later moved to dismiss McNally's case -- arguing that there was no proof that the violations were the "proximate cause" of McNally's injuries -- the Bronx County Supreme Court refused to grant the request. On appeal, the Appellate Division, First Department, reversed citing to McNally's inability to recall what triggered the accident. (In other words, there was no testimony or other proof which connected any purported violation to the trip and fall.) As the appellate court observed:
We have consistently held that "[w]here the facts proven show that there are several possible causes of an injury, for one or more of which the defendant was not responsible, and it is just as reasonable and probable that the injury was the result of one cause as the other, plaintiff cannot have a recovery, since he has failed to prove that the negligence of the defendant caused the injury'" ... Even when there is no requirement for the plaintiff to exclude every other possible cause other than a defendant's breach of duty, "the record must render the other possible causes sufficiently remote to enable the trier of fact to reach a verdict based upon the logical inferences to be drawn from the evidence, not upon speculation[.]"
Clearly, this case stands for the proposition that If you're "off your face," you may want to stay off your feet.
For a copy of the Appellate Division's decision in McNally v. Sabban, please click on the following link: http://www.nycourts.gov/reporter/3dseries/2006/2006_06309.htm