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Animal Defenders of Westchester
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Notice of Dangerous Condition

The "Winter 2005" edition of the CASH COURIER includes an excellent outline for implementation and utilization of the NOTICE OFDANGEROUS CONDITION OF ACTION.   

At this point it has been used in places as far as Illinois, Connecticut and New York.  I wish to add the following information:

We recommend extensive leafleting and/or getting the message out in any way possible apart from any media attention, after the NOTICE has been served, to further the town/city/village's awareness of its existence; in my opinion disseminating knowledge of the NOTICE'S existence is crucial to its effectiveness.  I would be glad to forward a draft of the flyer we used, which can be adapted.  

In the case of hunting, the issue of liability found its way onto a hunter's message board, as was previously posted; that's a good thing, as Martha would say.  We have attempted to reach the victims of the car crashes that resulted from the CB tiger stroll; it appears their lawsuits don't include NYC - and they should, as NYC was served with the NOTICE OF DANGEROUS CONDITION re circuses two years ago.

As CASH points out, no judgements have yet been awarded as a result of this Notice.  This is okay; the service itself is of benefit to the cause.  ALSO:  The drafts we used both incorporated "seeing" something upsetting as providing basis for a lawsuit; seeing an elephant shot, or finding a dead deer with an arrow in her, as happened to someone in Mt. Vernon, would qualify.  

CASH mentions a kayaker who was almost the recipient of a hunter's bullet while shooting at a goose; conceivably this experience could have qualified.  CASH article below:

From Fall / Winter 2004-2005 Issue


Peter Muller of C.A.S.H., Wildlife Watch is working with a group of attorneys and activists in Connecticut to oppose an increasing inclination of municipalities to permit hunting within their borders.

Our main legal tool used to combat this trend is the Notice of Dangerous Condition of Action. The Notice of Dangerous Condition is a legal device that is both a legal and PR deterrent to permitting activities that could injure some residents.

In most states, including New York and Connecticut, a municipality cannot be sued because of some negligence on the part of the municipality unless the municipality has been first notified that such a condition exists. In New York it’s commonly called “the pot- hole law.”

Although villages, towns and cities are required to fix potholes occurring on the roads that they maintain – they cannot be sued if one’s car is damaged due to an unfixed pot-hole unless they have been first notified that the condition exists.

To notify the town of the condition, you file an instrument called the “Notice of Dangerous Condition.”

The law not only applies to pot holes but to all dangerous conditions which the municipality suffers to exist. We’ve adapted this Notice for hunting, circuses, and using animal carcasses from hunts or roundups to feed “the poor.”

Suggestions for its use:

Fill out the form, notify media, and march into town hall (hopefully accompanied by media) and serve the notice on the hapless town clerk.

Explain to the media that the town has now been warned of the existing dangerous condition (hunt, circus, or food of doubtful quality served to “the poor). If injuries result from the condition described, the town is now exposed to extensive liability.

Don’t forget to notify the local trial lawyers association (the slip and fall attorneys) that there may be potential clients to be found in the soup kitchens that serve Canada goose flesh, etc.

Describe scenarios where the town is suddenly placed in debt for millions of dollars with taxes sky-rocketing and house prices plunging.

We’ve never had a case where an actual judgment was awarded based on the notice having been served – but it did make municipalities a lot more cautious in permitting conditions to exist that will set them up for law suits. It also curtailed a Canada goose flesh give- away program to food banks in upstate NY.

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