Mr. Acosta was dragged into an abandoned building, robbed and murdered by Mr. Melendez-Sanchez. The plaintiff, administratix of Acosta’s estate, claimed that the building was a public nuisance as it was abandoned and unlocked.
She argued if the building had been properly sealed, Melendez-Sanchez would not have been able to break in and murder Acosta. The Kings County, New York, Supreme Court ruled that plaintiff failed to state a cause of action pursuant to the New York Court of Appeals’ decision in Waters v. New York City Housing Authority.
It found no factual distinction to warrant a finding defendant building owner owed Acosta a duty of care. The court noted that no recovery could be had for nuisance where the injury was caused by subsequent intervening criminal conduct by a third party.
It ruled a building owner’s duty of care was limited to the tenants or others who might reasonably be expected to be on the premises. Thus, as Melendez-Sanchez did not have permission to be there, the defendant did not have control over him.
As such, the murder of Acosta was caused by an intervening act and plaintiff failed to state a cause of action. Therefore, her lawsuit was dismissed.