TORTS: PINKSTON V. AUDOBON AREA COMMUNITY SERVICES, INC. (COA 12/1/2006)

PINKSTON V. AUDOBON AREA COMMUNITY SERVICES, INC.
TORTS:  Premises Liability; repairs to property

2006-CA-000473
PUBLISHED:   AFFIRMING; WINE
DATE RENDERED: 12/01/2006

Pinkston appeals Daviess Circuit Ct’s summary judgment on her PI claim against her landlord, Audobon. Pinkston fell at her apartment complex on a slick set of stairs inside her apartment, which she had previously reported to the landlord and requested repair. She had also sought repairs of a handrail for the stairs that coincidentally broke away from the wall when she grabbed it in an attempt to catch herself during the fall. She alleged the landlord had failed to keep the premises in a safe and habitable condition. The landlord moved for summary judgment based on the longstanding rule that a tenant takes the premises as she finds them and that in absence of a contractual agreement to do so, it has no obligation to repair the leased premises. The landlord also argued that it was not legally liable for injuries caused by defects in the leased premises unless the condition is unknown by the tenant and not discoverable through reasonable inspection. Here, Pinkston knew of the condition (since she had reported it to the landlord). The TC agreed and granted summary judgment.

On appeal, the COA reiterated the existing case law on landlord liability and found the TC’s dismissal to be appropriate when applied to the case facts. The COA also noted that even if the landlord had contractually agreed to make the repairs, it was nevertheless not liable for personal injuries arising from a breach. Rather, the proper measure of damages would be cost to repair. The COA disagreed with the TC, however, that the landlord was also entitled to summary judgment because of immunity afforded to its parent charitable corporation since Kentucky abrograted the charitable immunity rule in Mullikin v. Jewish Hospital, Ky, 348 S.W.2d 930 (1961).

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