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ARTICLE ID 193758

$________ First floor tenant in building owned by defendant contends absence of railing on basement steps and steep risers cause fall – Comminuted humerus fracture on dominant arm

Hudson County, NJ

In this action, the 62 year-old plaintiff, who had resided for 30 years on the first floor of the building owned by the defendant, who lived on the second floor, contended that the basement steps were dangerous and violated the applicable code because the risers were too high, causing the stairway to be dangerously steep. In addition, the tread depth was insufficient for safe footing, and the presence of only one structurally unsound handrail left one side of the stairway dangerously open and unguarded. The plaintiff supported that as a result, she fell from the second to last step as she was descending.

The defendant’s homeowner’s carrier denied coverage based on the plaintiff’s status as a resident of the property, forcing the defendant homeowner to file a third-party complaint against the carrier. The plaintiff argued that enforcing such an exclusion in a situation, in which a tenant suffered injury because of structural defects, would be voided as against public policy.

The defendant further maintained that in view of the long number of years in which the plaintiff resided on the premises, and her thorough familiarity with the stairs, it was clear that she was overwhelmingly comparatively negligent.

The plaintiff supported that she sustained a comminuted displaced fracture of the right dominant humerus, which will cause permanent pain and significant limitations, despite surgery. The defendant did not dispute that the residual injury leaves the plaintiff with substantial deficits. The plaintiff made no income claims.The homeowner’s insurance carrier ultimately approved coverage, and took over the defendant homeowner’s defense. The case settled prior to trial for $________.

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