Property owners and occupiers may be liable for the injuries incurred by other people who enter the property, depending on the parties’ relationship and the circumstances of the case. Under Arizona premises liability law, a party who owns or controls property has a duty of reasonable care in maintaining the property to invitees who come onto the property. An invitee is a person who enters the property for a purpose connected with the owner’s business or for an activity permitted by the owner on the premises. However, owners and occupiers of property are not insurers of other peoples’ safety on their property. In general, in an Arizona premises liability case, a plaintiff must show that a condition posed an unreasonable risk of harm, the defendant knew or should have known that the condition posed an unreasonable risk of harm, the defendant should have anticipated that people would not recognize the danger or would not be protected from the danger, the defendant acted negligently, the plaintiff suffered an injury, and the condition caused the plaintiff’s injury.
In a recent Arizona premises liability case, the court considered whether two subletters on a commercial lease were liable for an individual’s injuries after he fell through the skylight of the building. The owner of the commercial building leased the building to another company, which was responsible for repairing and maintaining the building. The lessee then subleased portions of the building to two other companies. A manager handled the maintenance of the building for the lessee and hired one of the sublessees to perform repairs. Complicating matters further, according to the facts in the opinion, the other sublessee was responsible for maintaining the roof over its section of the warehouse it was subleasing.
The plaintiff was a friend of the manager of one of the sublessees, who would visit the property. On the day of the injury, based on the evidence presented, repairs were being done on the roof, and the plaintiff went on the roof, apparently to help monitor the situation. When he was on the roof, he stepped onto a skylight and fell through it, causing severe injuries. The plaintiff filed a claim against the owner, lessee, and two sublessees. The plaintiff argued in part that the sublessees were possessors of the roof and had a duty to maintain the roof in a safe condition.