Monday, January 6, 2014

Merrill v. Jansma case brief

Merrill v. Jansma case brief summary
86 P.3d 270 (2004)

Appellant visitor sought review of a summary judgment ruling of the District Court of Park County (Wyoming), which had dismissed her claims for personal injury that resulted from a fall on rental property belonging to appellee landlord. The district court ruled that the landlord owed no duty to the visitor under the Residential Rental Property Act, Wyoming Statute §1-21-1202 (2001).

A front step became loose during the time a tenant rented a mobile home from the landlord. The tenant informed the manager of the property that the step was loose. The manager attempted to repair the step, however that effort was unsuccessful. The visitor, the mother of the tenant, injured her right shoulder when she fell as she was climbing the front steps.

  • The court held that, with the enactment of the Act, Wyoming joined the majority of other states by modifying the rule of landlord immunity and imposing a duty on owners of rental property to maintain them in a safe, sanitary, and habitable condition. 
  • This duty gave rise to a new standard of care applicable in personal injury cases, which was reasonable care under the circumstances
  • Upon establishing a breach of this standard proximately caused the injury, the injured party was then entitled to prove any damages that were recoverable in a personal injury claim. 
  • The remedies provided for in the Act were limited to cases where corrective action was sought and the remedies did not apply to personal injury actions. 
  • The tenant's failure to provide written notice of the broken step, as required under Wyoming Statute §1-21-1203(b), thus did not preclude the visitor's claim.
The court reversed the summary judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings.

See also: Merrill v. Jansma case (full text) on Google Scholar.

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