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Landlord Held Not Liable for Injuries Suffered by Commercial Tenant’s Employee When Tenant Responsible for Maintenance of Premises

By on September 21, 2018 in Liability with 0 Comments

The issue often arises as to who is responsible to an injured plaintiff when the plaintiff falls on leased property – the owner or the tenant? This issue was addressed in Caldas v. Janard Management Services, Inc., 2018 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 972 (App. Div. April 26, 2018). Plaintiff Juan Caldas was injured at work when he fell on ice on property that his employer leased from the defendant Janard Management Services, Inc. Janard argued before the trial court that it should not be liable because its lease with plaintiff’s employer placed the responsibility for maintenance solely upon plaintiff’s employer, the tenant.

The facts were undisputed in that the plaintiff fell on premises that his company operated as its business premises, leased from Janard with a lease that was a 15 year triple net lease.    Pursuant to the lease, the plaintiff’s employer, as the tenant, was required to take good care of the premises at the tenant’s own cost and expense, make all repairs and maintain the entire premises without limitation, including, but not limited to the driveway and parking areas. Further, the lease provided that the landlord “shall not be responsible for injury to persons, occurring in or about the demised premises, by reason of any existing or future condition, defect, matter or thing in said demised premises.” Plaintiff’s employer agreed to indemnify and hold Janard harmless for liability for property damage and injury claims.

Plaintiff slipped and fell on ice on Janard’s premises around the gate’s key box. The snowplowing services were performed by a third-party who had been retained by the plaintiff’s employer and who had no dealings with Janard.

The trial court found that the landlord had no responsibility for the injury suffered by its commercial tenant’s employee due to a lack of proper maintenance when the lease unquestionably placed the responsibility for maintenance solely upon the tenant. The Appellate Division agreed with the trial court’s decision. The Court found that the undisputed facts placed the responsibility to maintain the premises upon the tenant and it refused to shift that responsibility to the commercial owner/landlord Janard.  Accordingly, it affirmed the trial decision, dismissing the complaint as to the defendant Janard.

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Betsy G. Ramos

About the Author

About the Author:

Ms. Ramos is an Executive Committee Member and Co-Chair of the Litigation Department at Capehart Scatchard, P.A. located in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. She is an experienced litigator with over 25 years experience handling diverse matters. Practice areas include tort defense, business litigation, estate litigation, tort claims and civil rights defense, construction litigation, insurance coverage, employment litigation, shareholder disputes, and general litigation.

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