SUMMARY JUDGMENT GRANTED IN ACTION BY EMPLOYEE OF COMMERCIAL TENANT’S AGAINST AN OUT OF POSSESSION LANDLORD.
In a fact pattern often repeated, an employee of a commercial tenant collects their Workers Compensation benefits for a workplace accident and then follows with a suit against their employer’s landlord for personal injuries. Here, the employee of a big box retailer, pursued a suit for personal injuries against an out of possession landlord. Sobel Pevzner, LLC, defended the landlord pursuant to the lease agreement in effect on the date of loss. In this triple net lease, the landlord bore no responsibility for the ordinary maintenance of the property, that duty having been fully ceded to the plaintiff’s employer, the commercial tenant under the lease.
This matter arose when plaintiff slipped and fell on an accumulation of snow and ice within the parking lot of the leasehold premises. Sobel Pevzner, LLC moved for summary judgment under the long standing line of cases which have strictly limited the liability of an out of possession landlord under circumstances identical to those presented in the instant Bronx County case.
Associate, Nicole Licata-McCord, advanced the argument that an out-of-possession landlord, which retained no duty to maintain the subject premises with respect to the removal of snow and ice, cannot be found liable for plaintiff’s injuries. In support of the motion, testimony of all parties along with the lease and all amendments were submitted to the Court. The evidence in the case supported the defense’s argument and it was clearly established that the obligation of ordinary maintenance including the removal of snow and ice resided solely within the plaintiff’s employer against whom Workers Compensation Law barred a direct action. Moreover, without proof of actual notice of the alleged dangerous condition, an out of possession landlord cannot be held responsible for a slip and fall over a transient condition.
The Honorable Kenneth L. Thompson, Jr. dismissed the Complaint in its entirety. As such, and as it should be, the plaintiff recovered nothing more than their statutory benefits under Workers Compensation.