J.H. v. R&M Tagliareni, LLC, No. A-6 081128, 2019 N.J. LEXIS 1037, at *73 (July 31, 2019)

Landlord does not owe a common law duty of care to guard its tenant against foreseeable dangers from an uncovered radiator.

The New Jersey Supreme Court held a landlord does not owe a common law duty of care to guard its tenant against foreseeable dangers arising from an uncovered radiator where the tenant maintained control over the radiator and the landlord is not required to abide by an express statutory duty of care. A nine-month old infant suffered permanent scarring when he was burned by an uncovered, free-standing cast iron radiator in an apartment owned and managed by the defendant-landlord. The infant came to be in that predicament when his father placed in him bed with his ten-year-old stepsister, and awoke to the infant sleeping on the floor with his head pressed against the hot radiator. After examining several New Jersey statutes imposing mandatory safety measures against residential landlords, the court noted that none of those statutes expressly imposed a responsibility on a landlord for radiators, while expressly imposing liability for tenant safety associated with other fixtures. Additionally, pursuant to the common law, the tenant retained control of the radiator because it was free to regulate temperature, thus, the emerging heat that burned the infant resulted from the parent-tenant’s actions. Summary judgment in favor of the defendant-landlord was granted.


Case Law Alerts, 4th Quarter, October 2019

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