♪This land is your land, it’s not my land, I’m not a landowner, so you can’t sue me… Plaintiff tripped and fell on common area sidewalk outside a medical campus. She sued the main tenant. Under the Premises Liability Act (PLA), only “landowners” could be liable for injuries on their land. There are two kinds of landowners: those in possession of the land, and those who are legally responsible for conditions on the land. This case addressed the second category and limited its scope. Here, under its lease, the defendant could not exclude anyone from occupying the land, was not responsible for maintenance or the condition of the sidewalk, and was not conducting any activities on the sidewalk; it also did not assume a duty to repair the sidewalk or create the condition that caused the injuries. Under these facts, the Court held the commercial tenant was not a landowner.
Tag Archives: Landowner
“Thousands of possibilities [to sue]. Get yours.” – Best Buy tagline. Plaintiff was on Best Buy’s property to purchase a refrigerator and was injured. Plaintiff sued under the Premises Liability Act (PLA) and ended up in federal court. The district court dismissed, finding the PLA only applies to activities “directly and inherently” related to the land. On appeal, the Tenth Circuit certified a question to the Court asking if that was correct. Answer: no. The PLA is more broad than “directly and inherently,” but not so broad that it applies to any tort on another’s property. Interpreting Pierson v. Black Canyon, the Court held that the PLA applies to “conditions, activities, and circumstances on the property” that the landowner is liable for as a landowner. Thus, the fact-specific inquiry must include whether the injury was caused by the landowner’s actions as the landowner.
“Step on a crack, break your back.” And then sue. Here, plaintiff tripped on a crack in a sidewalk in front of a medical clinic leasing the building it occupied. She sued under the Premises Liability Act, CRS 13-21-115. The clinic argued it was not a “landowner,” and thus not liable. The court of appeals’ majority agreed. The clinic was not a landowner because it did not have a “sufficient” interest in the sidewalk. The clinic did not occupy the sidewalk – just the building; it did not control the sidewalk, though it had some maintenance responsibilities under its lease; and it did not conduct an activity on the sidewalk – its activities occurred in the adjacent building. The dissent would have held that the clinic had sufficient control over the only entrance to its offices because patients would park in spaces exclusively for patients, who must then use the sidewalk to access the clinic.
You are either in or out. ‘Cause if you are in, you are immune – workers’ compensation 101. “Statutory employers” (SEs) have immunity from suit for injuries to employees of a contractor (workers). Under CRS-8-41-402, a property owner is an SE if “any work [is] done on and to said property [by a worker].” Here, plaintiff was a worker on defendant CF&I’s property, was injured and sued CF&I. CF&I claimed it was an SE and thus immune. The trial court agreed with CF&I because plaintiff was working “on” CF&I’s property. It also relied on an argument not raised by CF&I, and without giving plaintiff notice. The court of appeals reversed. The plain statutory language uses “and” conjunctively; thus, work must be done both “on” and “to” the property to be an SE. Further, though a trial court may grant judgment for reasons not raised by the movant, it should give notice to the nonmoving party first.
Wile E. Coyote never got the Road Runner to smack into his wall painted like a road. Here, City hired Vista to construct medians in the middle of a road. The medians were completed by Vista and accepted by the City. For a while, the double yellow stripes led straight into the median, where plaintiff crashed her car. She sued Vista under both the PLA and common law negligence. After rejecting the application of the PLA because Vista was not a “landowner,” the court of appeals adopted new construction liability standards. It rejected the “completed and accepted” doctrine under which construction companies owed no duties to third parties after completing work. The court adopted a “foreseeability rule” making companies potentially liable even after work is completed, if it would be unreasonable to expect another party to mitigate a danger. The case was remanded to apply the new standard.
A cyclist is attacked on federal land during a sponsored race by two “predator control dogs” whose owners had a permit to graze sheep in the area. The trial court granted summary judgment for the owners, finding that the Premises Liability Act (PLA) abrogated the cyclist’s common law tort claims, and a claim under the “dog bite statute” was excluded by the “predator control dogs” exception. The court of appeals disagreed in part. First, because the owners were grazing sheep pursuant to a Forest Service permit, they were “landowners” under the PLA, which abrogated common law tort claims. But, the owners were not in “control of” the land, so the predator control dog exception did not apply. The statutes did not conflict because the remedies under each are different. Finally, the court agreed that a settlement offer from the owners was successfully withdrawn and thus not enforceable.
Certiorari was granted in this case on “Whether the court of appeals erred in holding that the working dog exemption to section 13-21-124, C.R.S. (2012), applies only when a bite occurs on a dog owner’s property or property under his or her control, and that “control” of property exists only if one has the right to exclude others from it.”