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PERSONAL INJURY LAW: – Superior Court strikes claim based upon landlord’s alleged duty to protect one lessee from another

PERSONAL INJURY LAW: – Superior Court Strikes Claim Based Upon Landlord’s Alleged Duty To Protect One Lessee From Another

It was alleged that the landlord knew or should have known that a dangerous individual with a history of criminal activity resided on the leased premises, such that the landlord should have known that a substantial likelihood existed that the individual would endanger the safety of other individuals on the premises.  The plaintiff alleged that the landlord was negligent and reckless by, among other things, not expelling the allegedly dangerous individual and by not providing security guards.  The tortfeasor later allegedly shot three individuals inside the apartment building.

While the Supreme Court has recognized that a landlord may have duty to take affirmative action to protect tenants and guests from criminal conduct of third parties, that duty is generally limited to areas over which the landlord has exclusive control or the situations in which the landlord has the exclusive ability to prevent unlawful conduct.  The Superior Court finds that under these allegations there was an insufficient basis for the finding of a special relationship of custody and control sufficient to impose a duty upon the landlord.  “A special relationship of custody and control does not arise from the mere fact that the defendants were the owner and property manager of an apartment complex where the decedents were tenants or invitees.”

Blue v. Dye House Associates, CV-14-6055943 (October 19, 2015 Sheridan, J.)