Successful Defense in Case Involving Duties of Property Owners and Residential Landlords
Bowles Rice defended the owner of a large residential apartment complex, who was sued arising out of a devastating fire in which the client and adjacent property owners lost their commercial buildings. A tenant caused the fire and, allegedly, propane tanks existed on the property. Plaintiff sued under negligence and strict liability and attempted to create new law regarding a property owner’s duty to inspect the premises for hazardous materials on site and to screen dangerous tenants who may have a propensity to start fires.
After lengthy discovery, Bowles Rice filed a motion for summary judgment in Logan County, West Virginia. The Circuit Court agreed with the defense’s legal argument and did not extend a common law duty of a residential landlord to conduct background checks or inspect apartment complex for ultra-hazardous materials.