Monday, January 6, 2014

Trentacost v. Brussel case brief

Trentacost v. Brussel case brief summary
412 A.2d 436 (1980)

CASE SYNOPSIS
Defendant landlord appealed a decision of the Superior Court, Appellate Division (New Jersey) affirming the trial court's judgment for plaintiff tenant after the jury awarded damages upon finding that the landlord provided inadequate security for common areas of the rental premises and thus was liable for failing to prevent a criminal assault upon the tenant.

CASE FACTS
Plaintiff tenant was assaulted and robbed while in the common areas inside the apartment building. She brought suit against defendant landlord and was awarded damages by the jury. The appellate court affirmed. Defendant appealed.

DISCUSSION

  • The court affirmed, finding that defendant was obligated to secure the entrance to the common areas of plaintiff's building because there was ample evidence that criminal activity affecting the building was reasonably foreseeable. 
  • Against this background, the jury could readily view the absence of a lock on the front entrance, an area outside plaintiff's control, as exemplifying a callous disregard for the residents' safety in violation of ordinary standards of care. 
  • Since there was sufficient evidence for concluding that the mugging was a foreseeable result of defendant's negligence, the jury's finding of liability was warranted. 
  • Its paramount concern was with health and safety. 
  • Accordingly, the expense involved in making a dwelling secure and habitable did not diminish defendant's responsibility.

CONCLUSION
The judgment for plaintiff tenant was affirmed because there was sufficient evidence for concluding the mugging was a foreseeable result of defendant' landlord's negligence; the expense involved in making a dwelling secure and habitable did not diminish defendant's responsibility.

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