Skip to main content



Hernandez v. M-Industries, LLC

A-0747-09T3 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2010) (Unpublished)

LANDOWNER’S LIABILITY — As a general matter, a landowner has a nondelegable duty to use reasonable care to protect invitees against known and reasonably discovered dangers, but when the invitee is employed by an independent contractor hired by the landowner to perform work, the landowner does have a duty to provide a reasonably safe workplace, but not a duty to protect an employee or an independent contractor from the very hazard created by doing contracted work.

The owner of a commercial warehouse hired a management company to maintain it. An employee of the management company was injured “when he fell through the warehouse roof while attempting to cover a leaky skylight with a tarp.” The employee sued the warehouse owner for allegedly negligently permitting “a dangerous condition on its property to cause injury” to him. The warehouse owner defended itself by claiming that the worker “was injured while engaged in the very work the independent contractor was hired to perform.” At the time of the accident, the injured worker was a building manager and maintenance foreman. Roof repairs and repairs to the skylight were included within his duties. In fact, “he had previously covered a leaky skylight with a tarp prior to the” accident.

“[A]s a general matter, a landowner has a nondelegable duty to use reasonable care to protect invitees against known and reasonably discovered dangers. ... However, when the invitee is employed by an independent contractor hired by the landowner to perform work, the landowner has ‘a duty to provide a reasonably safe workplace,’ but no duty ‘to protect an employee of an independent contractor from the very hazard created by doing contracted work.’ ... This exception is based on the understanding that a landowner ‘may assume that the worker, or his superiors, are possessed of sufficient skill to recognize the degree of danger involved and to adjust their methods of work accordingly.’” Here, the landowner “did not supervise the work in question or supply equipment or tools for the necessary repairs.” Consequently, the landowner was held to have no liability to the injured worker.


MEISLIK & MEISLIK
66 Park Street • Montclair, New Jersey 07042
tel: 973-783-3000 • fax: 973-744-5757 • info@meislik.com