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Curtis v. Diorio

2005 WL 3030833 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2005) (Unpublished)

LANDLORD’S LIABILITY; NEGLIGENCE—A host’s duty to a social guest includes an obligation to warn of a known dangerous condition on the premises except when the guest is aware of the condition or by reasonable use of the guest’s facilities would observe it.

For the better part of five years, a woman lived on and off with her boyfriend at a rented house. One day, she “missed the step while leaving through the back entrance of the house” and fell and broke her ankle. She sued the property owner, but the lower court dismissed the action. Both it and the Appellate Division treated her as a social guest at the property. According to the New Jersey Supreme Court, “a host’s duty to a social guest includes an obligation to warn of a known dangerous condition on the premises except when the guest is aware of the condition or by reasonable use of the facilities would observe it.” In this case, the lower court found that “[s]he regularly used the back steps. She was aware of [a] crack in the sidewalk, and that she could turn on the back porch light. She decided not to turn on the light because she believed there was sufficient light for her to see where she was going.” Consequently, she was not entitled to recover from the property owner even though, in the words of the Appellate Division, “[i]t [was] unfortunate that the accident happened.”


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