McMahon v. Mihalko
A tenant owes a business invitee a duty of reasonable care to protect against known, foreseeable dangers, even if the landlord agrees to take responsibility for the premises. Allegedly, the plaintiff, Joan McMahon, applied for a job at the law firm of Virginia P. Mihalko LLC. McMahon arrived at the front door, and Attorney Mihalko allegedly asked that she walk around to the side entrance. As McMahon descended the steps on the front porch, the porch allegedly collapsed, and she was injured. McMahon sued Attorney Mihalko and her law firm, alleging that they were negligent. The defendants moved for summary judgment and argued that the landlord agreed to take responsibility for the premises, and the defendants were not in possession or control. "A business owner owes its invitees a duty to keep its premises in a reasonably safe condition," pursuant to DiPietro v. Farmington Sports Arena LLC, a 2012 decision of the Connecticut Supreme Court. "Liability for injuries caused by defective premises . . . does not depend on who holds legal title, but rather on who has possession and control of the property," pursuant to LaFlamme v. Dallessio, a 2002 decision of the Connecticut Supreme Court. The court denied the defendants' motion for summary judgment. "Under the facts presented," wrote the court, "there is evidence from which a jury could reasonably conclude that a tenant-possessor had notice of a defective condition and failed to take reasonable steps to remedy the condition."