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What Does the Lease Say? (NY)

June 18, 2020

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<p style="text-align: justify;">In <em><a href="https://www.wcmlaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Mallet-v.-City-of-New-York.pdf">Mallet v. City of New York</a>,</em> the Appellate Division, Second Department addressed whether the defendants – City of New York, New York City Economic Development Corporation, and Apple Industrial Development Corp., had a duty to repair unsafe conditions located inside a building leased to plaintiff’s employer.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The Supreme Court denied the defendants’ motion for summary judgment; however, the Appellate Division reversed the Supreme Court dismissing the plaintiff’s complaint.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Plaintiff was allegedly injured when he slipped on ice created by a leaky pipe inside the ceiling of a walk-in freezer in a building leased to plaintiff’s employer. Plaintiff alleged that his injuries were caused by the defendants’ negligent operation and management of the premises which the freezer was located.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The Appellate Division stated that “An out-of-possession landlord is not liable for injuries that occur on its premises unless the landlord has retained control over the premises and has a duty imposed by statute or assumed by contract or a course of conduct” (citations omitted). As such, the case came down to the language of the lease between the plaintiff’s employer and the defendants, which stated, “Landlord's Obligations do not include the performance nor the payment of the costs for . . . the maintenance, repair and/or replacement of Freezer System or the replacement of the Refrigeration System at any time.” As such, according to the lease, plaintiff’s employer bears the responsibility of the maintenance to the walk-freezer.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">This decision serves as a reminder that the lease will likely be the most important document in a case when representing a landlord. As such, always request the lease from your landlord clients.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Thanks to Corey Morgenstern for his contribution to this post.  Please email <a href="mailto:gcoats@wcmlaw.com">Georgia Coats</a> with any questions.</p>

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