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Minick v. Valley Fair Corporation

A-5351-95T3 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 1997) (Unpublished)

LANDLORD-TENANT; NEGLIGENCE —In a negligence case, the tenant’s demised premises was found to include the area directly below tenant’s loading dock.

A delivery man sustained injuries on the job when he fell into a pothole in the vicinity of the loading dock where he was working. He sued the owner of the premises, the lessee, and the sublessee. All claims were settled except for a dispute between the lessee and the sublessee for indemnification. Each claimed the other was exclusively responsible for repair and maintenance of the loading dock area. Summary judgment was granted in favor of the sublessee and lessee appealed.

The issue is whether the pavement where the injury occurred is part of the demised premises, thereby making it sublessee’s responsibility under the sublease, or part of the common area, for which the lessee is responsible. The Appellate Division found that the pothole was immediately beneath the loading dock and therefore considered to be part of it. Furthermore, no other tenant used the area and the sublessee undertook maintenance of the area both before and after the injury. Accordingly, it was part of the demised premises and sublessee’s responsibility to maintain. [Note: Certification has been denied.]


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