Landlord Not Entitled to Summary Judgment in Trip-and-Fall Case

In Ledesma v. AMA Grocery, Corp., 42 N.Y.S.3d 157, 158 (N.Y. App. Div. 1st Dept. Dec. 6, 2016), a personal injury trip-and-fall case, the court affirmed the denial of summary judgment to the landlord/defendant.

In this case, plaintiff alleged that they sustained injuries when they fell on a raised metal strip at the edge of a step at the entrance to the tenant’s deli/grocery. This case concerns the liability of a so-called “out of possession landlord” for injuries occurring on leased premises.

The court summarized the law:

An out-of-possession landlord is generally not liable for negligence with respect to the condition of property after transfer of possession and control to the tenant unless the landlord “(1) is contractually obligated to make repairs or maintain the premises or (2) has a contractual right to reenter, inspect, and make needed repairs and liability is based on a significant structural or design defect that is contrary to a specific statutory safety provision. Where an owner is not completely out-of-possession, it may be held liable as long as it had adequate notice of and a reasonable opportunity to repair the dangerous condition.

Applying the law to the facts, the court held: “It was undisputed that the lease agreement made appellant landlords responsible for repairs to the interior and exterior public portion of the premises. The court properly concluded that there was an issue of fact concerning whether the metal strip was affixed to a step that was located in the public portion of the premises, and the photographs submitted by the parties do not lay this issue to rest.”

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