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Owner Not Liable For Injuries To Tenant's Guests (NJ)

January 30, 2020

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<p style="text-align: justify;">The New Jersey Supreme Court recently issued a landmark ruling on the duty of a commercial property owner to maintain a leased property.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">In<em> <a href="https://www.wcmlaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Baldwin-Shields-v.-Ramslee-Motors.pdf">Baldwin Shields v. Ramslee Motors</a>,</em> the court considered whether the owner of a commercial property owed its tenant’s invitee a duty to clear snow and ice from the property’s driveway while the property is in the sole possession and control of the tenant.  The clear and unambiguous lease agreement between the parties stated that the tenant was solely responsible for the maintenance and repair of the land and any structure of the premises, as if the tenant were the de factor owner of the leased premises.  The tenant also testified at a deposition that they were responsible for clearing snow and ice from the property.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The court ultimately held that the tenant was responsible for the removal of snow from the driveway, and that the property owner was not responsible since they had relinquished control of the property to the tenant.  This case is notable since commercial landowners typically have a non-delegable duty to maintain their property. This case appears to carve out an exception when the tenant has exclusive control and possession of the property.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Thanks to Heather Aquino for her contribution to this post.  If you have any questions, please email <a href="mailto:gcoats@wcmlaw.com">Georgia Coats</a>.</p>

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