What Property Owners, Managers and Trustees Of Mixed-Use Buildings Need to Know About Changes to Massachusetts’ Strict Liability Law
By Howard S. Goldman, Esq.
As recently reported in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, a Massachusetts Housing Court Justice recently held in the case of Sheehan v. Weaver that an owner of a structure with three residential apartments above a commercial unit could be held strictly liable for injuries suffered by an intoxicated residential tenant who fell off a balcony due to a defective guardrail under the State Building Code (M.G.L c. 143, Sec. 51) (“Strict Liability Statute”).
So what does the Sheehan case mean to property owners, managers and trustees of mixed use buildings? This ruling appears to have expanded the potential liability of the owner of a mixed residential-commercial non-owner-occupied structures because the court ruled that mixed-use structures were sufficiently “commercial” and “public” to be considered a “building” within the meaning of the State Building Code’s Strict Liability Statute. [Read more...]