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Riss v. New York

Law Dictionary

Law Dictionary

Featuring Black's Law Dictionary 2nd Ed.
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Torts Keyed to Dobbs

Citation. Riss v. New York, 22 N.Y.2d 579 (N.Y. 1968)

Brief Fact Summary. The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court in the First Judicial Department (New York) affirmed a lower court’s dismissal of Linda Riss’ (Appellant) complaint alleging that New York (Respondent) was liable for its failure to protect Appellant. Appellant contested the order.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. The court refused to hold the government liable, in the absence of legislation, or to carve out an area of tort liability for police protection to members of the public.

Facts. Appellant had been terrorized for months by a rejected suitor, a man named Pugach. This involved threats of serious injury and death. Appellant consistently sought the protection of police. She eventually became engaged to another man, and during a party celebrating her engagement, the rejected suitor called her threatening that it was her “last chance.” She contacted police again, but they did not act. Pugach hired an assailant to throw lye into Appellant’s face. She was blinded in one eye, lost most of her sight in the other, and her face was permanently disfigured. She brought an action against the police department for failing to protect her. The trial court dismissed her action, and the Appellate division affirmed.

Issue. Was the city liable for its failure to provide special protection for a member of the public, who had been subject to constant threats, repeatedly requested such protection, and eventually suffered egregious harm when those threats were carried out?
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