Pigeon Poop Expert

A plaintiff in a slip and fall case in New York was permitted to testify as an expert on pigeon droppings.

The plaintiff in Stewart v. New York City Tr. Auth.  2011 NY Slip Op 01593  (NY 1st App. Div. Mar. 3, 2011) slipped and fell on pigeon poop at a subway station.  The opinion says this about pigeon poop:


There was nothing manifestly untrue or incredible about plaintiff’s testimony that he often observed pigeon droppings on the subway stairs that he used every day and that he was caused to slip because of the presence of pigeon droppings on the very same set of stairs. Indeed, the station cleaner similarly testified that he had "experience on a daily basis with pigeon [droppings] and having to clean it from these steps," and that he was taught to put sand over the pigeon droppings because they were slippery.

At trial, plaintiff testified that he always saw pigeon excrement all over the station, that he often saw it on the stairs where he fell, that he had complained repeatedly to station workers, that he saw it 14 hours before the accident, and that he saw it again at the time of the accident.  The station cleaner agreed that pigeons often left their droppings throughout the station, and while he denied seeing accumulations of droppings on the steps, he also stated that he had experience cleaning the droppings on a daily basis from the steps. He also testified that part of his duties included cleaning the steps of the droppings, and while he denied that the droppings were slippery, he also stated that he was trained to put sand over the droppings because they were slippery, and to then clean them off the steps. In addition, he maintained that he did not work on the day of the accident and thus could not dispute plaintiff’s account of the condition of the steps on that day. 

There was sufficient evidence from which the jury could infer that defendant had actual knowledge that pigeons regularly left their droppings on the stairway which were regularly permitted to remain for an unreasonable period of time.

The New York Injury Cases Blog claims to have inside information about the case, including the following:

As a result of his doorman and porter jobs, Stewart claimed he’d become a bit of a self-taught expert on pigeon excrement, having seen and cleaned a considerable amount over the years. He was allowed to testify as to color and texture differences between newly deposited and older droppings and what the defendant should and could have done to rid the area of pigeons.

The appellate court affirmed a significant verdict for the plaintiff, obviously rejecting the strenuous argument of the defendant that the plaintiff didn’t know shit about poop.


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