NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR STATE HIGHWAY
After Jennifer D was killed in a car accident on Niagara Falls Blvd, at the border of the Towns of Tonawanda and Amherst (“Towns”), a negligence case was brought against the latter alleging they permitted a “dangerous condition” to exist. (Apparently, it was alleged that the Towns failed to “adequately light the road.”)
When the Erie County Supreme Court dismissed the case because there was “no duty of care” owed by the Towns in this instance, an appeal ensued and the Appellate Division, Fourth Department, agreed that a municipality isn’t responsible for a road it does not own or control, unless it voluntarily undertakes such an obligation. And since this was a “state highway,” and the Towns did not assume any effort, nor had any duty, to maintain same, the AD4 left the dismissal undisturbed.
Contrary to the plaintiffs’ argument, state law [Highway Law § 327] did not require a town to light the road, but affords it the ability to provide for same, should it so choose. A town is free, “in its discretion,” to “discontinue lighting at any time.”
That sure shed light on that ….