Negligence – Duty of Care – Liability for Injury Caused by Obvious Defect Where Lessor Contracted to Repair
Defendant, lessor of a delivery truck, agreed with the lessee to maintain the vehicle in good condition and make regular inspections. The lessee’s driver was not to make any repairs or adjustments but was to deliver the truck to the lessor as it needed repairs or as requested for inspection. Two years after the lease was made, plaintiff-driver made a written request to the lessor for repairs to the floor in the driver’s compartment. Although plaintiff left the truck overnight with the lessor and made several further requests, the floor was not repaired. One month after notifying the lessor, plaintiff slipped on a small spot where the metal was exposed and sustained severe injuries. In an action against the lessor for negligence, the jury returned a verdict for plaintiff. The trial court, however, granted the lessor’s motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict on the theory that there could be no liability since the defect was obvious, and not concealed. On appeal, held, reversed. Where by agreement a lessor has reserved control of the property through the exclusive right and duty to repair, tort liability for injuries incurred due to failure to repair may be imposed even though the defect was apparent. Campbell v. Siever, (Minn. 1958) 91 N.W. (2d) 474.