Commercial Condominium Unit Owner Held Responsible for Hazardous Condition to Exterior of the Unit

Commercial Condominium Unit Owner Held Responsible for Hazardous Condition to Exterior of the Unit

In Nielsen v. Walmart Stores, Mr. Nielsen was a contractor that was hired by Walmart to set rodent traps near the entrances to the Walmart store in Princeton. He slipped and fell outside of the store. Walmart was the owner of a multi-unit commercial condominium developed by Nassau Shopping Center Condominium Association. The governing documents stated that the developer was the owner of the area where the Plaintiff fell, and had a duty to maintain that area. Walmart argued that because the developer owned the area where the fall occurred, and because the governing documents required the developer to maintain that area, Walmart should not be held responsible.

The Court rejected Walmart’s argument. The Court held that notwithstanding the governing documents of the Association, New Jersey common law stands for the proposition that a commercial land occupier’s duty of care extends beyond the boundaries of its property, and generally includes sidewalks and other similar exterior areas. The Court held that the Plaintiff, as well as other business invitees, should not be limited by contractual arrangements between the developer and Walmart. The Court further recognized that Walmart was not without redress, in that Walmart could seek indemnification from the developer for whatever damages Walmart might be required to pay Mr. Nielsen.

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