SW Legal Educational Publishing

Property Owner May Be Liable For Independent Contractor's Negligence
Description Retailer may be liable for negligence of independent contractors who designed entryway and maintained entryway in a slip and fall case. Owner of business premises is subject to liability for the independent contractor's negligence.
Topic Torts
Key Words Independent Contractor, Premises Liability, Vicarious Liability
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Bedford Mall, owned and managed by NET Properties, hired an independent contractor to design the mall's entryway and another to maintain the entryway and mall floors. Valenti slipped and fell on the wet entryway, breaking her hip. She sued NET. The question is if NET or the independent contractors could be liable.
Decision "As a general rule, an employer is not liable for the negligence of its independent contractor." But there are many exceptions. New Hampshire adopts Section 425 of the Restatement (Second) of Torts, which provides: "One who employs an independent contractor to maintain in safe condition land which he holds open to the entry of the public as his place of business ... is subject to the same liability for physical harm caused by the contractor's negligent failure to maintain the land ... in reasonably safe condition, as though he had retained its maintenance in his own hands." Hence, NET could be subject to liability for the independent contractor's negligence and Valenti's suit may go forward.
Citation Valenti v. NET Properties Management, Inc., 1998 WL 91312 (Sup. Ct., N.H.)
710 A.2d 399 (Sup. Ct., N.H., 1998)

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