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Commercial landlord is not liable for injuries suffered by invitees of its tenant where lease places maintenance responsibilities solely on the tenant.

April 1, 2019
Ward v. Bayonne Industries, Inc., A-335-17, 2019 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 7 (App. Div. Jan. 2, 2019)

The plaintiff was injured in the course of his employment with IMTT while working at the Bayonne Terminal in Bayonne, New Jersey. The commercial owner of the property is Bayonne Industries, who leased the premises to IMTT beginning in 1983. Under that lease agreement, IMTT had the exclusive duty to maintain and repair the property. Nonetheless, the plaintiff commenced a premises liability suit against Bayonne Industries for his accident.

The trial court granted summary judgment for Bayonne Industries, which was affirmed by the New Jersey Appellate Division. The court relied on McBride v. Port Authority, 295 N.J. Super. 521, 525-27 (App. Div. 1996) and Geringer v. Hartz Mountain Development Corp., 388 N.J. Super. 392, 400-02 (App. Div. 2006), which both hold that a commercial landlord is not liable for injuries suffered by invitees of its tenant where contract places maintenance responsibilities solely on the tenant. The court distinguished other cases where, for example, there was a municipal ordinance requiring the landowner tp maintain the premises or where the landowner did not relinquish exclusive possession of the property.

This case must be remembered by defense counsel representing a commercial landowner under the same or substantially similar facts when considering the merits of moving for summary judgment.


Case Law Alerts, 2nd Quarter, April 2019

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