Leone v. G.B. Ltd.

A-6300-96T3 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 1998) (Unpublished)
  • Opinion Date: September 29, 1998

SIDEWALKS; LIABILITY—A ramp from a sidewalk to a municipal parking lot need not be characterized as a sidewalk; in such a case, an abutting commercial property owner or tenant is not liable for maintenance of the ramp, as it would be for a sidewalk.

A pedestrian sued a landlord, its tenant, its managing agent, and the municipality after she fell outside of a shopping center. The landlord owned the shopping center and the sidewalk abutted a store leased to the tenant. The municipality owned the parking lot that also abutted the sidewalk. The pedestrian fell as she traversed a ramp leading from the sidewalk in front of the tenant’s store leading to the parking lot. The pedestrian’s expert identified the ramp as the cause of the accident. After the pedestrian settled with the municipality, the landlord and tenant then moved for summary judgment, which was granted. On appeal, the pedestrian argued that there was evidence from which a reasonable jury could conclude that “any one or all of them were negligent in the construction and/or maintenance of the ramp on which the [pedestrian] fell and was injured.” After finding that neither the landlord nor tenant constructed nor maintained the ramp in question, the Appellate Division upheld the lower court’s dismissal by the lower court. Although commercial property owners have a duty to maintain sidewalks abutting their property in reasonably good condition, the Court refused to characterize the ramp as a sidewalk.