LOWER MANHATTAN — This piece of City Hall history is so slippery, it's a safety hazard, a lawsuit claims.
A Queens man is suing the city after he slipped and fell on a "dangerously very smooth, shiny" portion of a large stone plaque meant to educate visitors about the history of City Hall Park, a lawsuit filed in Queens Supreme Court claims.
In December 2013, Carlos Rodriguez slipped and broke his ankle as he walked across a very glossy section of the circular inlay at the south end of the park, according to the suit and his lawyer, Christopher Thaens.
"The city knew, and still knows, that this is a dangerous situation that they’ve created,” Thaens told DNAinfo New York. “When you build a slippery surface that hundreds of people, tourists walk across everyday, you either are aware, or should be aware, of the hazard that presents.”
The plaque — located south of the park’s fountain, at the entrance near Barclay Street and Broadway — was installed after the park underwent a $34.6 million restoration in 1999, according to the Parks Department website. Visitors can walk over the circle and read facts about the site, like the history of the construction of City Hall, which first opened in 1812.
Certain sections have a particularly glassy finish, and when it rains, there are usually signs placed on it that read "Caution: Slippery When Wet." Sometimes, including one rainy day this week, there’s also at least one metal barricade placed on the tablet.
The signs, however, do not fix the underlying issue, according to Thaens.
“Especially when it’s rainy and people are walking by, distracted by their cellphones, even if there’s a sign, you’re creating a trap,” Thaens said. "They should take those tiles out and give them a frictional surface, or there should be some more substantial barrier.”
More than a year since the fall, Thaens said his client, who's his 40s, is still suffering from the effects of the broken ankle and has missed a substantial amount of work.
"His life will be permanently affected by the injury,” Thaens said.
The case was initially filed in Queens in November last year, but it was moved to Manhattan Supreme Court this week, after the city requested a change of venue, Thaens said.
Rodriguez is seeking an unspecified amount of damages for his medical care, loss of work time and legal fees. Thaens declined to say how long Rodriguez was out of work due to his injury, citing pending litigation.
A spokesman for the city's Law Department, Nick Paolucci, said the "claims are being evaluated."
The Parks Department, which was also named in the suit, deferred questions to the city Law Department.