In June 2019, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Florida premises liability case requiring the court determine if a property management company overseeing an apartment complex could be liable for a resident’s injuries. Ultimately, the court concluded that the agreement between the property management company and the owner of the complex may have placed a duty on the property management company to fix the hazard that caused the plaintiff’s injuries. Thus, the appellate court reversed the lower court’s decision to grant the management company’s motion for summary judgment.
According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff had lived at the apartment complex for about 11 months. Typically, the plaintiff would drive to go get her mail from a kiosk located at the front of the complex. However, one day, she decided to walk. On her way, the plaintiff tripped and fell as she was walking down a sloped portion of the sidewalk that was designated for wheelchairs.
The plaintiff filed a personal injury case against several parties, including the property management company. Evidently, the property management company had entered into a contract with the owner of the complex whereby the company would advertise vacancies, collect rent, and maintain the property. Specifically, the agreement allowed the company to use its discretion when conducting repairs costing less than $2,000, but required owner approval for the more expensive maintenance unless “emergency action is necessary.” It was established that repairing the sidewalk would have cost more than $2,000. Both the property management company as the complex owner knew that the sloped walkway was not in compliance with city code.