This matter concerns a lawsuit brought by the estate of former Atria East Northport resident, Patricia Desjardins, against Barbara Friedrich, a motorist who struck Ms. Desjardins while she was crossing the street in front of the community. Ms. Friedrich in turn sued Atria Senior Living in a third-party action, alleging if she is held liable it is due to the negligence of Atria.
In finding for Atria, the State Supreme Court in Suffolk County held that “Atria established as a matter of law that it owed no duty to plaintiff to prevent her from leaving its facility, and, thus, had no liability to plaintiff.” Specifically, Atria lacked the necessary authority or ability to exercise control over the plaintiff, so as to create a duty on its part since (1) the plaintiff was a voluntary resident of Atria with no medical reason to impede her ability to leave the facility unaccompanied; and (2) statutes and regulations provide for the right of a voluntary resident in non-emergency situations to make independent personal decisions, to exercise civil liberties, and to be free of physical restraints. see Malave v. Lakeside Manor Homes for Adults, Inc., 105 AD3d 914 (2d Dep’t 2013).
Significantly, the Court found that Atria, as an adult home, lacked “a certain level of authority and control” over its residents. Fox v. Marshall, 88 AD3d 131 (2d Dep’t 2011), who did not “relinquish general autonomy”. Purdy v. Public Adm’r of County of Westchester, 72 NY2d 1 (1988).