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Cuffy v. City of New York

Court of Appeals of New York
505 N.E.2d 937 (N.Y. 1987)


Joseph and Eleanor Cuffy (plaintiff) lived in the upper apartment of a two-family house with their son Cyril (plaintiff). The Cuffys rented the lower unit of the house to Joel and Barbara Atkins. Throughout the lease, the Cuffys and the Atkins were involved in several altercations. In July 1981, Joel physically confronted Eleanor. Joseph went to the police to ask for protection for his family. Joseph told the police that he intended to move his family if an arrest was not made, and the police promised to take action the following morning. The Cuffys stayed in the house, but the police did not follow up. The following evening, Ralston Cuffy (plaintiff), another son of the Cuffys, arrived at the Cuffy’s home and was struck by a baseball bat wielded by Joel. Eleanor and Cyril attempted to aid Ralston, but Barbara attacked both of them with a knife. All three Cuffys were severely injured. Eleanor, Cyril, and Ralston brought a claim against the City of New York (the city), claiming that the city had a special duty to protect the Cuffys due to the promise of protection made by the police. The trial court returned a verdict in favor of the Cuffys, and the appellate division affirmed. The city appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Titone, J.)

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