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Parents constantly worry about the antics that their teenagers and children get into when they are not under their surveillance and supervision. This was certainly true for the family of a New Jersey teenager, Justin Casquejo, who snuck out of his home at 4 a.m., went to the base of the 1 World Trade Center, and entered the construction site through a tiny hole (12 inches by 12 inches) in the exterior fence. He proceeded to scale the outside scaffolding of the building and managed to enter the building on the sixth floor. The elevator operator then permitted the teenager to ride up to the 88th floor.
Casquejo took the final ascent to the 104th floor from the stairs, and, slipping past a sleeping security guard, made his way to the top of the roof and scaled to the top of the antenna. He was on top of the tallest building in the United States for almost two hours snapping photos before he was finally discovered and arrested. If Casquejo had been injured in some way, however, it would be possible that the building owners would be liable. 

What is Attractive Nuisance?

The concept of attractive nuisance is a legal doctrine that imposes liability on property owners who maintain inherently dangerous structures, which may be attractive to children to play near or around. The statute was created because the Courts realized that children were unable to appreciate the risk of the situation, and did not have the age, maturity, and/or knowledge to understand the risks associated with their trespassing. A building or property owner, one who knows or has reason to know that children are in the vicinity, is in the best position to put up signs, fence off dangerous structures, and keep children from entering onto their premises.

New York Contributory Negligence Law

New York law does provide some protection to building owners so that there is no absolute liability that rests on them. New York Civil Practice Law and Rules section 1411, the statute discussing contributory negligence, provides that damages may be limited if the property owner can show that the child was partially at fault for his injury or death. In New York, the jury will decide the percentage of culpability that is related to the property owner and the percentage of culpability of the child. Contributory negligence will also rest on the child's age, maturity, knowledge, and his ability to evaluate the dangers associated with his trespass.

Children and teenagers, especially in a large city like New York City, may find themselves in a few precarious situations, the gravity of which they may be unaware. It is up to the property owner, whether a public or private entity, to ensure that their property has the proper safeguards to keep children or teenagers from trespassing.

New York City Premise Liability Attorneys

If you or a loved one has been hurt due to unsafe premises in New York City, please contact one of our skilled premise liability attorneys at Keogh Crispi, P.C. Our attorneys can offer guidance as to your rights. Call us today at 212- 818-0600 or send us a message online.

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