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Hidden Defect Must Be Made Transparent (NJ)

October 9, 2019

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<p style="text-align: justify;">In<em> <a href="https://www.wcmlaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Cabrera-v.-Fairleigh-Dickinson-1.pdf">Cabrera v. Fairleigh Dickinson</a></em>, the court considered whether a defendant owed a duty to alert an independent contractor to the existence of a hidden defect on the property.  Defendant FDU hired KB Electric Services to change lights on the roof of its property.  Defendant FDU was aware of a defect on the roof but failed to warn anyone at KB of the danger.  The plaintiff was an employee of KB and he fell from the roof due to the defect, sustaining personal injuries.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Of note<em>,</em> it was undisputed that a dangerous condition existed on the roof and that the defendant was aware of the defect.  Accordingly, at issue was whether or not defendant FDU owed a duty of care to KB and KB’s employees.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">In New Jersey, the law carves out an exception to the requirement that premises be made safe for an independent contractor when the contractor is invited onto the land to perform a specific task in respect of the hazard itself.  Based on this case law, the defendant argued that they did not owe a duty of care to KB.  However, in this case, the defect on the roof was hidden and only known to defendant.   The Appellate Court ultimately found that the defendant had a duty to warn the plaintiff of the dangerous condition.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Thanks to Heather Aquino for her contribution to this post.  Please email <a href="mailto:gcoats@wcmlaw.com">Georgia Coats</a> with any questions.</p>
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