Myles M. Mattenson
5550 Topanga Canyon Blvd.
Suite 200
Woodland Hills, California 91367
Telephone (818) 313-9060
Facsimile (818) 313-9260
I Leased My Building To A New Tenant And
A Customer Suffered An Injury.
Am I Liable?

      Myles M. Mattenson engages in a general civil and trial practice including litigation and transactional services relating to the coin laundry and dry cleaning industries, franchising, business, purchase and sale of real estate, easements, landlord-tenant, partnership, corporate, insurance bad faith, personal injury, and probate legal matters.

      In providing services to the coin laundry and dry cleaning industries, Mr. Mattenson has represented equipment distributors, coin laundry and dry cleaning business owners confronted with landlord-tenant issues, lease negotiations, sale documentation including agreements, escrow instructions, and security instruments, as well as fraud or misrepresentation controversies between buyers and sellers of such businesses.

      Mr. Mattenson serves as an Arbitrator for the Los Angeles County Superior Court. He is also past chair of the Law Office Management Section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association. Mr. Mattenson received his Bachelor of Science degree (Accounting) in 1964 and his Juris Doctorate degree from Loyola University School of Law in 1967.

      Bi-monthly articles by Mr. Mattenson on legal matters of interest to the business community appear in alternate months in The Journal, a leading coin laundry industry publication of the Coin Laundry Association, and Fabricare, a leading dry cleaning industry publication of the International Fabricare Institute. During the period of May 1995 through September 2002, Mr. Mattenson contributed similar articles to New Era Magazine, a coin laundry and dry cleaning industry publication which ceased publication with the September 2002 issue.

      This website contains copies of Mr. Mattenson's New Era Magazine articles which can be retrieved through a subject or chronological index. The website also contains copies of Mr. Mattenson's Journal and Fabricare articles, which can be retrieved through a chronological index.

      In addition to Mr. Mattenson's trial practice, he has successfully prosecuted and defended appeals on behalf of his clients in various areas of the law. Some of these appellate decisions are contained within his website.

I Leased My Building To A New Tenant And
A Customer Suffered An Injury.
Am I Liable?

Commercial   lessors   frequently  organize  associations   which
generate   leases  designed,  understandably,  to   protect   the
interests   of  association  members.   These  leases  frequently
require  tenants to completely maintain the property and  absolve
lessors  of  all  responsibility for  any  injury  to  person  or
property, no matter what the cause.

Grapes  resting gently in a bowl of fruit pose no danger.  Grapes
smashed  upon a concrete floor in a market present an  invitation
to slip and fall.

In a case arising out of Los Angeles County, a woman accepted the
invitation, stepped on some grapes resting upon a concrete  floor
and  slipped  and  fell.   The plaintiff filed  a  complaint  for
personal injuries against the lessor of the premises as  well  as
the operator of the market.

The  lessor  argued  to  the  Court  that  as  a  lessor  out  of
possession, without any actual notice of the dangerous  condition
on  the floor, he should be let out of the lawsuit.  Although the
trial  court  agreed,  the Court of Appeal instructed  the  trial
court to the contrary, as follows:

                ".  .  . a commercial landowner 'cannot
          totally      abrogate      its      landowner
          responsibilities merely by signing  a  lease.
          As  the  owner of property, a lessor  out  of
          possession  must exercise due care  and  must
          act  reasonably toward the tenant as well  as
          to  unknown third persons. . . .  At the time
          the  lease  is  executed and upon  renewal  a
          landlord has a right to reenter the property,
          has control of the property, and must inspect
          the  premises to make the premises reasonably
          safe from dangerous conditions."

The Court further observed:

                 "Even   if  the  commercial   landlord
          executes a contract which requires the tenant
          to   maintain  the  property  in  a   certain
          condition, the landlord is obligated  at  the
          time the lease is executed to take reasonable
          precautions to avoid unnecessary danger.'.  .
          .  .  'However, the landlord's responsibility
          to  inspect  is limited.  Like a  residential
          landlord,  the  duty to inspect  charges  the
          lessor  'only with those matters which  would
          have   been   disclosed   by   a   reasonable

One  theory  of liability argued by the plaintiff  was  that  the
floor  of  the  market was "inherently defective and  dangerous."
The  plaintiff  argued  that the floor was "improperly  finished"
because it became "slippery when littered with produce...."   The
plaintiff  asserted  that it was "common for  the  floor  of  the
market  to be littered with grapes."  Since a dangerous condition
was  thus  potentially "recurring or continuous",  the  Court  of
Appeal determined that the matter should proceed to trial.

The  moral  of  the  story?  Lessors should keep  in  mind  their
obligation to periodically inspect their property as well  as  to
maintain their insurance policies in good standing.

[This column is intended to provide general information only  and
is  not intended to provide specific legal advice; if you have  a
specific  question  regarding the  law,  you  should  contact  an
attorney  of your choice.  Suggestions for topics to be discussed
in this column are welcome.]

Reprinted from New Era Magazine
Myles M. Mattenson  1999-2002