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Off-Campus Housing At Colleges

Most of us can still remember all the craziness we experienced and/or saw while in college. Combining that environment and a lack of supervision with a young person’s still developing brain which does not readily recognize certain risks and dangers can be a recipe for disaster.

I recently read about a tragic case involving a female student at the Univ. of Pennsylvania who sat on a piece of flex board covering a skylight opening. The board gave way and she fell, rendering her a paraplegic. Interestingly, both owner and student/tenants were sued; the owner claimed that he was unaware that the original plywood board covering the skylight had been removed and further that the tenants were in exclusive control of the property. The student tenants, in turn, acknowledged that this was a dangerous condition, that they were aware of it and that they never told the owner of it.

The case eventually settled for over $11M with various insurers for the owner and tenants contributing to same. The fact that insurers for both owner and tenants paid is significant as it demonstrates that joint and several liability was a very possible outcome if the case had gone to trial. Moreover, this result further demonstrates the difficulty an owner had in arguing that he was unaware of the condition of property which he owns and derives a profit from.

Here at Harris & Associates, we have had extensive experience both prosecuting and defending premises liability cases- we are happy to speak with you and help you protect your legal interests in such a case.