Chicken Little

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Q: As I was sleeping, a portion of the bedroom ceiling fell on my head.  I had been residing at this apartment for more than a year.  The landlord had always advised me to inform the super of any complaints about my apartment.  I had previously complained to the super that the ceiling was damaged and water-stained, and that I feared it might fall on me.

A: A landowner has a duty to maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition in view of all the circumstances, including the likelihood of injury to others, the seriousness of the injury, and the burden of avoiding the risk.  In order for a landowner to be liable in tort to a plaintiff who is injured as a result of a defective condition upon property, it must be established that a defective condition existed and that the landowner affirmatively created the condition or had actual or constructive notice of its existence.

Your landlord is likely to argue: (1) that she maintained the premises in a reasonably safe condition; and (2) that she neither created the dangerous condition nor had actual or constructive notice of its existence.

Suppose that the super testifies that he had not received any prior complaint about this area of the ceiling.  His testimony merely raises an issue of credibility, and the jury is always free to believe you rather than him.  Suppose that the landlord testifies that the super was merely a tenant in the building who lacked any authority to receive and address your complaints.  Once again, it appears that the jury is free to believe otherwise.

By: Scott Baron,
Attorney at Law Advertorial

The law responds to changed conditions; exceptions and variations abound. Here, the information is general; always seek out competent counsel. This article shall not be construed as legal advice.

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