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Rivera v. Grill

Decided: January 30, 1961.

VICTOR RIVERA, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
IRA GRILL AND SYLVIA GRILL, DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS



Price, Gaulkin and Sullivan. The opinion of the court was delivered by Sullivan, J.A.D.

Sullivan

Plaintiff, a tenant, recovered a judgment against his landlord for $6,000 in his suit for damages for personal injuries allegedly caused by a defective condition of the leased premises. Defendant landlord appeals.

On July 4, 1958 plaintiff and his wife were tenants occupying a third-floor apartment in premises at 153 First Street, Hoboken, N.J., owned by Sylvia Grill. (Ira Grill died in June 1958 and by consent the suit was continued against Sylvia Grill as sole defendant.)

In substance plaintiff's proofs showed that on said date he, together with members of his family and friends, went to a beach in Staten Island, New York, where they remained for about four hours during which time he drank a can and a half of beer. They then returned to plaintiff's apartment and plaintiff "laid down" to rest in one of the bedrooms while other members of the family went to the kitchen to play parchesi. One of the persons in the group attempted to open a kitchen window and, unable to do so, called plaintiff, who went into the kitchen and while trying to raise the sash put his right hand through the glass and sustained a deep laceration of his right forearm, severing arteries, nerves, and tendons.

Plaintiff produced proof that the window had been in a rotted and unsafe condition for a long period of time and that despite several complaints of such condition having been made to the landlord, no repairs had been made.

Plaintiff asserted that the premises were subject to the provisions of the Tenement House Act, and in particular R.S. 55:7-1, and R.S. 55:5-11 which provide as follows:

R.S. 55:7-1.

"Every tenement house and all the parts thereof, shall be placed and maintained in good repair * * *."

R.S. 55:5-11.

"* * * sash window shall be at least three feet by five feet between stop beads and both halves shall be made so as to open readily * * *."

The alleged failure of the landlord to fulfill his statutory duty to keep the premises in repair was the basis of plaintiff's charge of negligence.

Defendant contended inter alia that plaintiff had been drinking and had deliberately pushed or punched his ...


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