As we discussed on this blog in December, 10 cities and counties in California earned a surprise win in a public nuisance lawsuit against former lead paint manufacturers and their successor companies. Legal until 1978, lead paint is now known to be poisonous, especially to children. Yet 35 years later, innumerable older buildings in California, here in New York and across the nation still contain the hidden hazard. Lead paint abatement is mandatory in certain circumstances, but countless homes and apartments haven’t received it, risking the health of unknowing renters and homebuyers.
Property owners have a responsibility to maintain safe conditions. No one should understand this more than landlords who own and lease out residential properties. They need to make sure that tenants and visitors have access to a safe environment, which can mean keeping hallways and stairwells clear, installing adequate lighting and removing any ice or snow from walkways. This last responsibility can be crucial in winter months in New York, but it is one that is often overlooked by negligent property owners.
On the Saturday before Memorial Day 2012, a New Brighton woman was innocently sunbathing on South Beach on Staten Island when, according to her accident report, she “felt pressure on her head.” That pressure was the front end of a 2004 Ford Suburban operated by the city Parks Department. It is unclear why the vehicle was on the sand in the first place, and even more difficult to imagine why its driver ran over a 26-year-old woman’s head.
In a surprising but welcome ruling, a California judge recently ruled that three lead paint companies are responsible for creating a public nuisance with their products, which were routinely used in homes before 1978. Ten cities and counties had sued Sherwin-Williams, NL Industries and ConAgra Grocery Products (as a successor company to W.P. Fuller & Co.) for the widespread lead paint hazards suffered by property owners across the state. They argued the manufacturers should be required to help clean it up, even though their product was legal at the time.
Six former high school football players and two parents have filed a lawsuit against the football coach and the school superintendent and the Marlboro Central School District in of Marlboro, a small town near Poughkeepsie. The coach was hired in 2010 and indeed carried the Marlboro Iron Dukes to victory but, according to the former students, that success was at an appalling cost. They claim the coach ordered them to “intentionally and improperly injure” opposing players he targeted.
In Nov. 2011, a 28-year-old man from Edison, New Jersey, was murdered with a pick ax late one night in an industrial lot in Sayreville. That lot was reportedly part of the property of Viking Terminal Marine, a wholesale marine and industrial equipment dealer. Three men have been charged with the murder, two of whom have just been named as defendants in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the victim’s family -- and so has Viking Terminal Marine.
When you think about holding dog owners responsible for harm caused by their animals, you typically think of dog bites. While precise details vary from state to state, the rules for seeking compensation for serious injuries by someone else’s dog generally come under the category of premises liability.