South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Landlord Had No Duty to Notify Next-of-Kin of Death of Tenant
Description Appeals court upheld the dismissal of a suit brought by a next-of-kin who was not notified when her brother died. Her brother was given a pauper's burial. The landlord had no possession of the body and was not responsible for its disposal.
Topic Torts
Key Words Wrongful Interference; Emotional Distress; Foreseeability; Duty; Public Policy
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Del Core’s brother was a tenant at an apartment owned by Mohican Historic Housing Associates from 1998 until his death in 2001. Mohican was aware that Del Core was the man’s next of kin, but did not inform her of the death until some time after his burial in a pauper’s grave. Del Core sued for wrongful interference with her right to possession and disposition of the remains of her brother and for infliction of emotional distress. The trial court held for Mohican; Del Core appealed.
Decision

Affirmed. The test for the existence of a legal duty entails: 1) foreseeability—the determination of whether an ordinary person in the defendant’s position, knowing what the defendant knew or should have known, would anticipate that harm of the general nature suffered was likely to result, and 2) a determination, on the basis of a public policy analysis, of whether the defendant’s responsibility for its negligent conduct should extend to the particular consequences in the case. The landlord never assumed responsibility for the tenant’s welfare. He died in the hospital, and the landlord did not have responsibility for disposal of his body. Failure to notify Del Core of her brother’s death was not grounds for infliction of emotional distress.

Citation Del Core v. Mohican Historic Housing Assn., --- A.2d --- (2003 WL 23112772, App. Ct., Conn., 2004)

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