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Briggs and Downer, Partners v. Pannaci

Decided: May 19, 1930.

BERTHA A. BRIGGS AND CLARA B. DOWNER, PARTNERS, TRADING AS THE MISSES BRIGGS, APPELLANTS,
v.
VERONICA PANNACI, RESPONDENT



On appeal from the Monmouth County Circuit Court.

For the appellants, Benjamin J. Downer.

For the respondent, Applegate, Stevens, Foster, Leonard & Reussille.

Wells

The opinion of the court was delivered by

WELLS, J. This is an appeal from a judgment entered on the verdict of a jury in favor of the defendant at the direction of the judge of the Circuit Court of Monmouth county, before whom the case was tried.

The plaintiffs instituted an action to recover damages for the value of their goods damaged by water, because of the alleged negligence on the part of the defendant in failing to keep in proper repair the roof over a storage room alleged to be in the retained control, use and possession of the defendant, and also for the value of the plaintiffs' business established in their store rented by the plaintiffs of defendant and damaged by the water, because the defendant knowingly and negligently maintained unsafe premises.

The defendant offered no evidence and cross-examined no witnesses, but at the conclusion of plaintiffs' case moved for a direction of a verdict in favor of defendant, which was granted.

The defendant was the owner of the Hotel Pannaci, located at Sea Bright, New Jersey. She rented to the plaintiffs under a written lease, dated March 18th, 1926, for a period of six months, beginning May 1st, 1926, "her small store known as the millinery shop" situate on the ground floor beneath the brick wing of the hotel.

The lease contained a renewal clause by virtue of which plaintiffs occupied the store "with the appurtenances" for the six months beginning May 1st, 1927.

During this renewal term, to wit, on July 23d, 1927, a heavy rain storm occurred and plaintiffs claim that by virtue of the defective condition of the roof over the storage room the water came through the roof over the storage room into the storage room and into the millinery shop and damaged her goods.

The brick wing to the hotel was three stories high. A part of the brick wing was divided into two small adjoining stores on the ground floor, each store had a rear entrance into a long room, known as the storage room, which was of a width equal to both stores and extended back and opened on the hotel yard.

This storage room was one story high and had a flat slag roof and formed a one-story extension of the hotel building at that point, the roof of the hotel wing being two stories higher than the roof of the extension.

In the northwest corner of the storage room was a toilet room. Plaintiffs leased the northerly of the two stores. At the time of the injury complained of, the adjoining store on the south was unoccupied. Adjoining plaintiffs' store on the north was a drug store.

The storage room was used by the defendant to store some of her surplus hotel furniture and also by the tenant of the drug store to store some of his supplies. The plaintiffs claimed that they had the right under their lease to use a designated part of the storage room for the storage of their goods and the use of the toilet and ...


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