County District Court File No. 62-CV-17-3248
E. Marshall, Engelmeier & Umanah, P.A., Minneapolis,
Minnesota (for appellant)
Nicholas L. Klehr, LaBore, Giuliani & Viltoft, Ltd.,
Hopkins, Minnesota (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Reyes, Presiding Judge; Hooten,
Judge; and Cochran, Judge.
covenants of habitability in Minn. Stat. § 504B.161,
subd. 1(a) (2018), do not support a private negligence cause
of action by a tenant against a landlord for breach of the
landlord's duty to repair and maintain the common areas
of the leased premises.
tenants appeal from a district court's grant of summary
judgment for respondent landlord. Appellants argue that (1)
respondent has an "unwaivable" statutory and
common-law duty as a landlord to repair and maintain the
leased premises; (2) the district court incorrectly applied
the law on a landlord's common-law duty toward tenants;
(3) genuine issues of material fact existed; and (4) the
district court failed to view the evidence in the light most
favorable to the nonmoving party. We affirm in part, reverse
in part, and remand.
David and Barbara Wise (collectively, the Wises) are longtime
residents of Graham Place Apartments, a senior community in
St. Paul. Graham Place Apartments is owned and managed by
respondent Stonebridge Communities, LLC (Stonebridge). On
October 20, 2014, Barbara Wise (Wise) tripped and fell on an
uneven section of the sidewalk in front of the main entrance
to Graham Place Apartments. Wise claimed that she tripped on
both the uneven sidewalk and a black mat, but the precise
location of the mat is disputed. As a result of her fall,
Wise suffered a bloody nose, concussion, torn right bicep
tendon, severe bruising, and an aggravation of a prior
rotator-cuff repair to her right arm. She claims resulting
pain, headaches, vision problems, and insomnia.
Wises sued Stonebridge in August 2016, claiming negligence
and loss of consortium. Stonebridge moved for summary judgment,
arguing that the Wises' claims fail because Stonebridge
did not have notice of the mat being in a dangerous position
on the sidewalk, and, in the alternative, that the uneven
sidewalk constituted an open-and-obvious condition, for which
Stonebridge did not owe the Wises a duty to warn. The Wises
opposed Stonebridge's motion, arguing that Stonebridge
had an unwaivable duty, under statute and common law, to
repair and maintain the common areas of the premises and that
this duty superseded any open-and-obvious determination.
district court granted Stonebridge's motion for summary
judgment on the sole basis that the uneven sidewalk presented
an open-and-obvious condition. In the same order, the
district court denied as moot the parties' other pretrial
motions. This appeal follows.
the district court err in granting summary judgment to
Stonebridge on the Wises' negligence claim against
Stonebridge for allegedly violating its unwaivable statutory
duty under Minn. Stat § 504B.161, subd. ...