Fields v. Ogburn

Decision Date05 November 1919
Docket Number362.
Citation100 S.E. 583,178 N.C. 407
CourtNorth Carolina Supreme Court

Appeal from Superior Court, Forsyth County; Bryson, Judge.

Action by Mrs. Carrie Fields against S. A. Ogburn. From judgment of nonsuit, plaintiff appeals. Affirmed.

This action is by a tenant and occupant of a dwelling house against defendant, the landlord and owner, to recover damages for physical injuries caused by alleged negligence on the part of defendant in failing to keep the premises in proper repair. At the close of the plaintiff's testimony on motion there was judgment of nonsuit. Plaintiff excepted and appealed.

The lessor of a dwelling house was not liable for injuries to the wife of the tenant when a porch railing gave way, throwing her to the ground, in the absence of agreement on his part to repair.

Le Roy B. Wall and J. Lindsay Patterson, both of Winston-Salem, for appellant.

R. G Stockton and Manly, Hendren & Womble, all of Winston-Salem for appellee.


The facts in evidence tended to show that in October, 1916, the female plaintiff and her husband were tenants of a four-room dwelling house, owned by defendant and rented to them by defendant's agent and on said date, while plaintiff was sitting on the front porch of said dwelling leaning against the banister it gave way, throwing her from the porch to the ground, a fall of several feet, and causing serious and painful injuries from which she still suffers; that another woman had been leaning on the banister at the time, and both fell to the ground; that the banister gave way from being insecurely fastened to the house with fourpenny nails, which were insufficient for the purpose, and after the injury the husband of plaintiff nailed same back with several eightpenny nails, and it was thereby made secure, continuing so thereafter while plaintiff remained at the house, a period of two or three months; that before the occurrence they had lived there as tenants for 2 1/2 years, and while plaintiff had continually complained to the agent of defendant for repairs which she desired, no complaint had been made of the condition of the porch or the banister in question, and in reply to her repeated complaints the agent had several times made answer that he would like to do more for her, but that he could only go according to instructions, etc.

On these, the facts chiefly relevant, we concur in his honor's view, and are of opinion that the judgment of nonsuit has been properly entered. In the absence of express stipulation on the subject, there is usually no obligation or assurance on the part of the landlord to his tenant that the premises will be kept in repair, or that the same are fit or suitable for the purposes for which they are rented. It is true that in case of latent defects of a kind that import menace of appreciable injury when these are known to the landlord, and of which tenant is ignorant and not likely to discover on reasonably careful inspection, liability has been recognized and recoveries sustained both on the ground of negligent breach of duty and at times for fraud and deceit but ordinarily, as stated in the well-sustained brief of appellee's counsel:

"There is no implied covenant in a lease of such property, either that the place is let for habitation, or that the owner will keep the same safe and in repair, and ordinarily the doctrine of caveat emptor applies to leases of realty, and throws on the lessee the responsibility of examining as to existence of defects on the rented premises and of providing against their ill effects."

Propositions that are approved by direct decision with us and which prevail generally in jurisdictions where the rights of the parties are dependent on common-law principles. Smithfield Improvement Co....

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10 cases
  • Godfrey v. Western Carolina Power Co.
    • United States
    • North Carolina Supreme Court
    • June 24, 1925
    ... ... leased premises in repair, but obviously these cases are not ... decisive of the point raised by the exceptions under ... consideration. Fields v. Ogburn, 178 N.C. 407, 100 ... S.E. 583; Improvement Co. v. Coley-Bardin, 156 N.C ... 255, 72 S.E. 312, 36 L. R. A. (N. S.) 907; Duffy v ... ...
  • Livingston v. Essex Inv. Co.
    • United States
    • North Carolina Supreme Court
    • April 30, 1941 the injury of the tenant. Fields v. Ogburn, supra [178 N.C. 407, 100 S.E. 583]; Galvin v. Beals, 187 Mass. 250, 72 N.E. 969." In the Fields case, supra, Hoke, J., goes into the subject thoroughness, citing a wealth of authorities, and says at page 408 of 178 N.C., at page 583 of 100 S.E.......
  • Harrill v. Sinclair Refining Co.
    • United States
    • North Carolina Supreme Court
    • September 26, 1945
    ... ... lessee. Gaither v. Hascall-Richards Steam Generator Co., ... supra; Hudson v. Anson Real Estate Co., 185 N.C ... 342, 117 S.E. 165; Fields v. Ogburn, 178 N.C. 407, ... 100 S.E. 583. To avoid foreclosure under this doctrine in an ... action for ... [35 S.E.2d 243.] ... tortious ... ...
  • Steffan v. Meiselman
    • United States
    • North Carolina Supreme Court
    • May 19, 1943
    ... ... strongly on Leavitt v. Twin City Rental Co., 222 ... N.C. 81, 21 S.E.2d 890, and cited cases, which follows the ... rule adopted in Fields v. Ogburn, 178 N.C. 407, 100 ... S.E. 583; Duffy v. Hartsfield, 180 N.C. 151, 104 ... S.E. 139, and similar cases between [223 N.C. 158] landlord ... ...
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