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Paparone v. Logue

A-6007-99T3 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2001) (Unpublished)

LANDLORD’S LIABILITY—Where there is no evidence that a defective portion of leased premises is in the exclusive control of the landlord, the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur is inapplicable.

A tenant leased a home for about four years, at which time, a wooden deck attached to the home collapsed. The lease was facilitated by a real estate broker and the broker collected rent on the property. The broker was also listed as the managing agent for the property and the entity to address maintenance issues with respect to the property. The tenant was allegedly injured when the deck collapsed and sought damages based on negligence, negligent misrepresentation of the condition of the residence, and consumer fraud. The property owner and the broker asserted a lack of actual constructive notice of a defect in connection with the deck. Summary judgment was granted to the property owner and the real estate broker. In doing so, the lower court observed that the tenant had occupied the house exclusively for about four years and that prior to renting the property, the tenant had gone through the premises and “found no dangerous or hazardous [] problem with respect to the property.” The Court also noted that the tenant had exclusive control of the house. The Appellate Division affirmed the lower court’s finding and the lower court’s rejection of the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur because there was no evidence that the porch was within the exclusive control of the property owner or of the broker. “[T]o support the application of res ipsa loquitur to these facts is misplaced.”

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