Falling Air Conditioners Pose Danger Below

In one of the first episodes of the hit TV series “Mad Men,” a woman throws her newly acquired television set out of her high-rise apartment window. This impulsive act was also reckless, as the bulky device could have hit someone on the sidewalk below.

Unfortunately, in today’s New York, bulky objects falling from buildings are a dangerous reality. No, people aren’t throwing flat-screen TVs out of windows. But there is considerable concern about a very specific problem: window-unit air conditioners falling from buildings.

Under New York premises liability law, if someone sustains injuries in such an accident, the property owner can be held liable for their damages.

Air-conditioning units recently fell from two windows in a building on the Upper East Side. The building was a housing project located near a playground. One of the units fell from the twentieth floor and nearly hit children on the playground.

The New York Housing Authority convened an emergency meeting for residents of the building, Holmes Towers, as well as the nearby Isaacs Houses, on East 93rd Street. More than 125 people attended.

Housing officials explained the rules about using installing window units. For some units, the installation is supposed to include metal brackets.

The rules reminder will eventually be given throughout the city. The housing authority plans to send a letter to all public-housing residents. This effort will involve over 178,000 apartments.

Just because an air-conditioning unit has been sitting in a window for years doesn’t mean it will stay there. If it is not secured properly, it could fall – with serious consequences for someone below who could be hit by it.

There is precedent for this happening in New York City. A pedestrian was killed by a falling air conditioner in 1988 that fell from a seventh-floor office window. That incident happened on East 23rd Street.

Source: “Amid Falling Air-Conditioners, City Battens Down on Proper Installation,” New York Times, Chris Palmer, 7-1-12

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