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Premises liability focus: New York landlord taken to court

Persons and companies that own and manage properties have a good-faith duty imposed on them to reasonably inspect and maintain those premises in good working order, so that guests, visitors and other persons entitled to be onsite are safe and not unreasonably subjected to injury.

That duty is firmly ensconced under both federal and state laws that address premises liability concerns and remedies.

Put another way: There is legal recourse against landlords and other managers of properties when their negligent acts or omissions directly contribute to injuries suffered by a third party.

Given the complex and ever-growing nature of the varied infrastructure that defines America, it is not surprising that liability lawsuits can target negligent behavior across a wide spectrum of properties and other landscapes. Those include shopping malls, movie theaters, retail stores, supermarkets, parking ramps, public sidewalks and private homes.

They also include apartment complexes, where landlords have an affirmative duty to always conduct their business in a manner that does not create unreasonable health or safety risks for their tenants and guests.

That duty is underscored by a lawsuit brought recently by multiple tenants against a New York landlord on Manhattan's Lower East Side. Those tenants allege that the landlord has both harassed them and subjected them to dire health risks through onsite demolition activities that have raised lead levels far above legally mandated levels.

A recent inspection of the property by city health regulators revealed levels that exceeded legal limits in some areas by more than 200 times. An inspection at another of the landlord's properties conducted last year found lead levels that exceed legal maximums by as much as 2,750 times.

The landlord said earlier this month that the lawsuit "is riddled with inaccuracies and false allegations."

We will keep readers timely informed of any material details that emerge in the litigation.

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