Brooklyn-based Artist Obtains Dismissal of Action

November 20, 2007

Cleary Gottlieb obtained the voluntary dismissal of an action brought against its pro bono client Eddy Steinhauer, a Brooklyn-based artist, who had been sued by a visitor to an art exhibition that Mr. Steinhauer curated in 2003. The plaintiff agreed to discontinue the action against Mr. Steinhauer after Cleary Gottlieb filed a motion for summary judgment.

The lawsuit arose out of injuries the plaintiff suffered after attending the opening for Mr. Steinhauer’s 2003 exhibition titled “Lightshow.” After leaving the exhibition, which was confined to the first floor of Brooklyn’s seven-story Clocktower Building, the plaintiff used a freight elevator to trespass up to the building’s roof, climbed the rooftop water tower ladder, lost his footing and fell more than 20 feet to the rooftop. Plaintiff sued Mr. Steinhauer, along with the building owners and the other co-curators of the art exhibition.

After nearly two years of discovery, the building owners moved for summary judgment earlier this year. Judge Wayne Saitta (N.Y. Supreme Court, Brooklyn County) granted the motion, finding among other things that the building owners had no duty to warn the plaintiff about the risk posed by climbing the water tower ladder (in fact, the plaintiff admitted that he climbed the ladder fully aware of the risk of falling). Based on that ruling, Cleary Gottlieb also moved for summary judgment in favor of Mr. Steinhauer, arguing that his connection to the plaintiff’s injury was even more attenuated than that of the building owners. In lieu of responding to the motion, the plaintiff agreed to release Mr. Steinhauer from the case.