Landlord Out-of-Possession Liable if Retained Control Over Defective Portion of Property

Posted on: July 10th, 2012       Attorney Thomas Newell

A PA Superior Court Decision permitted a Pennsylvania slip and fall victim to present her personal injury claim to a jury.  An employee of a furniture store was walking to her car in a parking lot by the rear entrance to the store when she fell.  Her Pennsylvania slip and fall lawyer filed a lawsuit versus the property owner.  It was alleged that the landlord negligently permitted water runoff, as well as snow and ice to accumulate in a depression in the parking lot causing a dangerous condition.

The attorney representing the parking lot owner filed a Motion for Summary Judgment which was granted by the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County.  The Trial Court ruled that the Defendant was a landlord out of possession and not liable for injuries suffered by a 3rd party on the leased premises because the property owner did not owe a duty to someone not a tenant.The Pennsylvania slip and fall attorney filed an appeal to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania.  A specific term of the lease between the property owner and the furniture store stated that the tenant could not make any structural repairs or alteration without the landlord’s consent.  The Appeals Court ruled that this language showed there was a material issue of fact as to whether the landlord continued to exercise control over the alleged defective portions of the property.  Therefore, the PA slip and fall victim was entitled to have her day in court.  Jones v. Levin, 940 A.2d 451 (Pa. Super. 2007)