Linda Riss (plaintiff) was terrorized by a stalker named Burton Pugach for more than six months. On multiple occasions, Pugach threatened to harm or kill Riss. Riss repeatedly sought help from the police department of the City of New York (defendant), but the police did not provide meaningful assistance. After Pugach told Riss that it was her “last chance,” Riss again asked the police for protection. Again, the police did not respond to her request for help. The next day, a person hired by Pugach threw lye in Riss’s face, blinding Riss in one eye, harming the vision in her other eye, and permanently scarring her. After the assault, the city began to provide protection for Riss. Riss sued the City of New York for failing to protect her from Pugach. The trial court dismissed the complaint after both sides had presented evidence at trial, but before the matter could be submitted to the jury. A divided appellate court affirmed the dismissal. Riss appealed to the New York Court of Appeals.