In an interesting premise liability case – Holley, et al. v. Argonaut Holdings, Inc., et al. – the RI Supreme Court considered the duty, if any, owed by a commercial landlord to an employee of its tenant. The Court, in an opinion written by Justice Flaherty, held that where a plaintiff employee of a commercial tenant brought suit seeking to hold the defendant landlord liable for an injury sustained at the leased premises, a judgment for the defendant was properly entered because no breach of duty was shown.
Justice Flaherty writes:
The plaintiffs’ complaint alleged that defendant had a duty to maintain the premises. The plaintiffs contended that their injuries were a direct result of defendant’s breach of this duty. However, under our well-settled law, a commercial landlord owes a duty of care to an invitee of its tenant only under the narrowest of circumstances. Therefore, such a landowner is not liable for injuries that the tenant’s invitee suffers on the leased premises, “unless the injury results from the landlord’s breach of a covenant to repair in the lease, or from a latent defect known to the landlord but not known to the tenant or guest, or because the landlord subsequently has assumed the duty to repair.” Lucier v. Impact Recreation, Ltd., 864 A.2d 635, 640 (R.I. 2005) (citing East Coast Collision & Restoration, Inc. v. Allyn, 742 A.2d 273, 276 (R.I. 1999); Coppotelli v. Brewer Yacht Yard at Cowesset, Inc., 636 A.2d 1326, 1327 (R.I. 1999); Izen v. Winoker, 589 A.2d 824, 828 (R.I. 1991)).
Here, we conclude that plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate that any of the three exceptions to the rule apply…