Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Premises Liability Claim Against An Out-of-Possession Landlord Allowed To Proceed

In the case of Poplawski v. Jiunta, No. 3338 CIVIL 2023 (C.P. Monroe Co. Aug. 28, 2023 Williamson, J.), the court denied a Defendant’s Preliminary Objections to a Plaintiff’s Complaint in which the Plaintiff alleged that he was injured when a large mirror fell on him in a business leased from the Defendant landowner.

The Defendant asserted that, as an out-of-possession landlord Defendant, the Plaintiff had failed to state a cause of action against that particular Defendant.

The court noted that a Complaint must not only give notice of a claim but also summarize the essential facts at issue. 

In this case, the Complaint alleged that the Defendant was the owner of the building where the Plaintiff was a customer, that a defect existed on the property in the form of an allegedly improperly secured mirror, and that the Plaintiff suffered injury when the mirror fell. 

The court found that these factual allegations were sufficiently specific to assert a negligence cause of action against the Defendant landlord.

Judge David J. Williamson
Monroe County

While Judge David J. Williamson of the Monroe County Court of Common Pleas noted that, as a general rule, a landlord out-of-possession is not liable for injuries on a lease premises unless certain exceptions applied, he could not sustain the landlord Defendant’s Preliminary Objections in this case. The court found that it remained unclear as to whether or not any of the exceptions to the rule applied. 

As such, the court allowed the case to proceed into discovery so that there could be a determination if there were any additional facts to clarify the Defendant’s role and potential responsibility.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.

Source: “Digest of Recent Opinions.” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (Sept. 19, 2023).

Source of image:  Photo by furkanfdemir on

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