Robinson v. Thomas

Decision Date07 November 1956
Docket NumberNo. 244,244
Citation244 N.C. 732,94 S.E.2d 911
PartiesHubert A. ROBINSON v. Ethel M. THOMAS and Charlotte Rental Co., Inc.
CourtNorth Carolina Supreme Court

Carpenter & Webb, by William B. Webb, Charlotte, for plaintiff-appellant.

Helms & Mulliss, Fred B. Helms, Wm. H. Bobbitt, Jr., Charlotte, for defendant Ethel M. Thomas, appellee.

Cochran, McCleneghan & Miller, by F. A. McCleneghan, Charlotte, for defendant Charlotte Rental Company, Inc., appellee.

HIGGINS, Justice.

The plaintiff abandoned his exceptive assignment to the order striking parts of the complaint by his failure to support the assignment by argument, reason, or authority. Rule 28, Rules of Practice in the Supreme Court, 221 N.C. 544. The plaintiff offered evidence relating (1) to the stricken allegations of the complaint, (2) to other properties owned by the defendant, Mrs. Thomas, and (3) to the repairs made by the defendants after the plaintiff's injury. All the foregoing evidence was properly excluded.

Left for consideration is the sole question whether the evidence when considered in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, giving him the benefit of all permissible inferences which may be drawn from it, presents a case for the jury. If the evidence, when so considered, shows the defendants violated some legal duty they owed to the plaintiff and his injury and damage were the proximate result of that breach of duty, then he is entitled to have the jury pass upon his cause. Otherwise it ends here. Admittedly, there was no contract or guaranty the tenant would be safe in the leased premises. The law does not imply such a contract. The test of the landlord's liability is given in Harrill v. Sinclair Refining Co., 225 N.C. 421, 35 S.E.2d 240, 242:

'Ordinarily, the doctrine of caveat emptor applies to the lessee. Gaither v. Hascall-Richards Steam Generator Co., supra [121 N.C. 384, 28 S.E. 546]; Hudson v. Singleton Silk 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 tortious injury, he must show that there is a latent defect known to the lessor, or which he should have known, involving a menace or danger, and a defect of which the lessee was unaware or could not, by the exercise of ordinary diligence, discover, the concealment of which would be an act of bad faith on the part of the lessor. ' If the landlord is without knowledge, at the time of the letting of any dangerous defect in the premises, he is not responsible for any injuries which result from such defect.' Covington [Co.] v. Masonic Temple Co., 176 Ky. 729, 197 S.W. 420, 423, L.R.A.1918A, 436. And he is not liable if he did not believe or suspect that there was any physical condition involving danger. Charlton v. Brunelle, 82 N.H. 100, 130 A. 216, 43 A.L.R. 1281.'

Ordinarily, the landlord is under no duty to make repairs. Moss v. Hicks, 240 N.C. 788, 83 S.E.2d 890. The owner is not liable for personal injury caused by failure to repair. Pleasants v. Barnes, 211 N.C. 173, 19 S.E.2d 627; Simons v. Lebrun, 219 N.C. 42, 12 S.E.2d 644; Tucker v. Park Yarn Mill Co., 194 N.C. 756, 140 S.E. 744. Even in case of a contract to repair, liability for personal injury resulting from a breach of the agreement is ordinarily not within the contemplation of the parties. Mercer v. Williams, 210 N.C. 456, 187 S.E. 556; Jordan v. Miller, 179 N.C. 73, 101 S.E. 550. Only in case of repairs negligently mde is there liability. Fields v. Ogburn, 178 N.C. 407, 100 S.E. 583.

The plaintiff seeks to exclude himself from the application of the foregoing rules by alleging the defendants knew of latent and dangerous defects in the construction and maintenance of the porch floor and wrongfully concealed them from the plaintiff. There is no evidence in the record that Mrs. Thomas had any actual or constructive knowledge that the apartment was inherently dangerous, either by reason of construction or maintenance. In fact, there is no evidence s...

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10 cases
  • Lenz v. Ridgewood Associates
    • United States
    • North Carolina Court of Appeals
    • 15 Diciembre 1981
    ...rise to an action by the tenant for personal injury arising out of a defective condition of the demised premises. Robinson v. Thomas, 244 N.C. 732, 94 S.E.2d 911 (1956) (porch floor gave way); Harrill v. Refining Co., 225 N.C. 421, 35 S.E.2d 240 (1945) (service station door fell); Leavitt v......
  • J. A. Jones Const. Co. v. Local Union 755 of Intern. Broth. of Elec. Workers (A. F. of L.)
    • United States
    • North Carolina Supreme Court
    • 28 Junio 1957
    ...156 S.E. 126; State v. Bitings, 206 N.C. 798, 175 S.E. 299; Swinton v. Savoy Realty Co., 236 N.C. 723, 73 S.E.2d 785; Robinson v. Thomas, 244 N.C. 732, 94 S.E.2d 911. Upon motion of the defendants that Judge Sharp find the facts upon which the temporary restraining order of Judge Huskins wa......
  • Miller v. C.W. Myers Trading Post, Inc.
    • United States
    • North Carolina Court of Appeals
    • 5 Mayo 1987
    ...condition of leased premises. See Gaither v. Hascall-Richards Steam Generator Co., 121 N.C. 384, 28 S.E. 546 (1897); Robinson v. Thomas, 244 N.C. 732, 94 S.E.2d 911 (1956); see generally Fillette, North Carolina's Residential Rental Agreements Act: New Developments for Contract and Tort Lia......
  • Phillips v. Stowe Mills, Inc., 6927SC144
    • United States
    • North Carolina Court of Appeals
    • 18 Junio 1969
    ...is ordinarily not within the contemplation of the parties. Only in case of repairs negligently made is there liability. Robinson v. Thomas, 244 N.C. 732, 94 S.E.2d 911. The plaintiff asserts that the curtain wall was negligently constructed, because no drainage facilities were provided and ......
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