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Stephan v. Smith

Decided: January 7, 1939.

CHARLES E. STEPHAN, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
PARTHENIA E. SMITH, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



On appeal from the District Court, Second Judicial District of the county of Hudson.

For the defendant-appellant, William J. Straub (Stanley U. Phares, of counsel).

For the plaintiff-appellee, Reuben P. Goldstein.

Before Justices Trenchard, Parker and Perskie.

Trenchard

The opinion of the court was delivered by

TRENCHARD, J. Parthenia E. Smith, the defendant below and appellant here, was the owner of an apartment house occupied by several tenants, in which she had reserved the control of the stairways for the common use of the tenants. The plaintiff below was one of such tenants. In attempting

to descend from the second to the first floor, he caught his heel on the defective nosing of such common stairway and fell down the stairs and sustained the injury for which this suit was brought. The trial judge, sitting without a jury, rendered judgment for the plaintiff.

Upon an examination of the alleged grounds of appeal, in the light of the state of the case as settled by the trial judge, we find that the only ground available to the defendant on this appeal was the refusal to nonsuit, which motion was based on the ground that the plaintiff failed to prove a cause of action in that he "failed to establish notice of the alleged defect as required by law."

We think that the motion was properly denied.

A landlord who has reserved control over a portion of his property for the common use of several tenants owes to them the duty to use reasonable care to see that such reserved portion is maintained in reasonably safe condition. Charney v. Cohen, 94 N.J.L. 381; affirmed, 95 Id. 538; Battschinger v. Robinson, 83 Id. 739; Johnson v. Eagle Brewing Co., 75 Id. 282; Siggins v. McGill, 72 Id. 263.

Incidentally, it appears in the present case that the defect that caused plaintiff's injury was the result of defective work in a repair job, done one week before the accident, by the landlord or her agents.

As to this phase of the case the general rule is that where, as here, a landlord has a duty to make repairs to a stairway upon demised premises, and undertakes to do so, he is liable for injuries resulting from the negligence of himself or his servants in making such repairs, since the duty of making such repairs is a ...


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