The Supreme Court of Colorado recently held a shopping mall tenant responsible for a slip and fall accident that occurred on ice in the shopping center’s parking lot. In Constable v. Northglenn, LLC, 248 P.3d 714 (Colo. 2011), the Court sided with the landlord /wner of the shopping mall and found that an indemnity provision in the lease agreement resulted in the tenant being liable for injuries suffered by the tenant’s customer. An indemnity provision is an agreement to hold another harmless for specified liabilities and is common in commercial leases.
The surprising aspect of the case is that the tenant was held liable even though the landlord was responsible for maintaining the parking lot and was found to be the negligent party. The Court ruled that the landlord had an obligation to keep the parking areas in “reasonably good order, condition, and repair.” However, according to the lease agreement, when the landlord failed to properly maintain the parking areas, the tenant had the right to perform such maintenance and deduct the maintenance expenses from rent. The clearly drafted indemnity provision, along with the tenant’s right to remedy the condition, caused the Court to find the tenant liable for the injuries sustained by its customer from the slip and fall.
This case emphasizes the importance of having a clear understanding of your commercial lease agreement as well as the rights and obligations associated with it. If you would like more information regarding your commercial lease, please contact our Business Law Group partner, David A. Closson at [email protected].