The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court recently ruled that a landlord can be held strictly liable for injuries sustained by a plaintiff if the building is a place of public or commercial use and the injury is a result of building code violations. See Sheehan v. Weaver. This case involved a person who sustained serious injuries when he was walking down an exterior staircase and the guardrail broke causing him to fall and land on the pavement. An expert retained by the plaintiff testified the building in question had eighteen building code violations including defects in strength, height and condition of the guardrail.
The Jury found in favor of the plaintiff and furthermore found the defendant was strictly liable for the plaintiff’s injuries because of building code violations. MGL c-143, s51 imposes strict liability on the owner or other party in control of “a place of assembly, theatre, special hall, public hall, factory, workshop manufacturing establishment or building” for damages caused by a violation of the Massachusetts State Building Code.
In this case, the court determined the plaintiff fell in a staircase to a residential apartment unit and the unit was not used by the public so therefore, the residence did not qualify as a Building under the statute. Nevertheless, this case stands for the proposition that if you are injured as a result of a landlord’s violation of the Massachusetts State Building codes, the owner of the premises could be found strictly liable for your injuries if the premises is deemed a building under the statute.
If you or a loved on sustained a personal injury as a result of a building code violations of a landlord or building owner, it is imperative you consult with an experienced personal injury attorney such as Attorney Michael Smith at the Mass Injury Group.