Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case illustrating the outer bounds of how far courts will currently go to impose liability on a defendant landlord. However, the case is important to Florida personal injury plaintiffs because, given the societal scourge that addiction represents and the recent efforts to combat the disease, the law in this area may be ripe for a change.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiffs were the surviving parents of a young man who died of a ketamine overdose while at a home that was owned by the defendant. The defendant, however, did not live in the home and allowed his ex-girlfriend and her family to reside at the home rent-free. The exact details of the agreement were not clear, but there was evidence suggesting that the tenant worked for the defendant.
The young man had obtained the drugs through the son of the tenant. The defendant knew that the son had a troubled legal past, but he knew nothing of the fact that they were using ketamine at his home. In fact, the defendant had not lived in the home in three years. Once the tenant told the defendant of the young man’s death, he ended the agreement and required everyone living in the home to move out.
The young man’s family brought a premises liability lawsuit against the defendant, arguing that he failed to keep the property in a reasonably safe condition. Specifically, they argued that the defendant failed to exercise reasonable care in ensuring that the home was free from illegal and dangerous activity. The trial court determined that the defendant landlord did not owe the young man a duty of care and dismissed the case. The plaintiffs appealed.
On appeal, the case was affirmed in favor of the defendant. The court explained that, although a duty of care is imposed on landowners for a variety of potentially hazardous conditions, it would not extend liability under these facts. The court first drew a distinction between a dangerous condition on a property and a dangerous activity occurring on the property, noting that the latter involves only “passive negligence.” The court went on to explain that the defendant did have a duty not to engage in dangerous activities himself, but whether he had a duty to prevent others from engaging in dangerous activities was a different question.
Ultimately, the court determined that the defendant was not liable. The court explained that state lawmakers have the ability to pass legislation establishing liability in this type of situation. The court then noted that the fact that lawmakers have not passed such legislation is an indication that it was not their intent to expose a landlord to liability in this situation.
Are You in Need of an Attorney?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured while on the property of another party, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. While the plaintiffs were not successful in this case, society’s attitude is shifting toward the disease of addiction and the culpability of those who enable it. If you believe that you may have a case, reach out to an attorney at the South Florida premises liability law firm of Friedman, Rodman & Frank. We will meet with you to discuss your case and whether we can help you recover compensation for your injuries or loss at no cost to you. In fact, you will not be billed for our services unless we are able to help you obtain the compensation you deserve. Call 877-448-8585 to schedule your free consultation today.
More Blog Posts:
Court Rejects Underinsured Motorist Claim Following Horse-Drawn Carriage Accident, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published May 19, 2017.
Used-Car Dealer May Be on the Hook for Injuries Related to Missing Muffler, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published June 5, 2018.