Articles Posted in New Hampshire Case Law

Many New Hampshire homes were built years ago, and although these residences come with a certain charm, they may also pose serious dangers to residents. One common health hazard that individuals may suffer related to these homes is exposure to lead and lead poisoning. Lead paint was commonly used in New Hampshire homes before Congress’ ban in 1978.

Studies suggest that almost 40 million homes in the United States built before the 60s contain lead paint. Many of the homes containing a concerning amount of lead paint include children under six years old. This is alarming because exposure to lead paint can lead to lead poisoning, which can cause severe permanent damage.

Recently, an appellate court in New Hampshire issued an opinion in a consolidated action between a landlord seeking unpaid rent and tenants who alleged that their children suffered harm as a result of lead exposure while living in the landlord’s property. The couple moved into the landlord’s apartment when their twin children were one year old. Several months later, the parents became concerned about developmental delays. At their check-up, both children received lead testing, which revealed elevated levels. The family moved out of the residence, and their landlord filed an action against them, seeking unpaid rent. The family presented expert evidence suggesting that the children’s delays were related to lead in the apartment. The landlord argued that the expert’s finding should be excluded because his methodology was unsupported by medical literature. The appellate court ultimately remanded the case, but found that experts in these cases are not required to base their opinions on one specific type of methodology, so long as their methods are reliable.

Recently the state’s high court issued an opinion stemming from a New Hampshire slip and fall accident occurring in the plaintiff’s employer’s parking lot. According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff slipped on ice in an employee parking lot as she exited her vehicle before beginning her shift as a nurse at the hospital. As a result of her slip and fall, she suffered severe injuries requiring surgery. Her employer, a hospital, was immune from liability, so the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the company that the hospital hired to clear snow and ice.

The plaintiff alleged that the snow company breached their duty to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition because they failed to clear and salt the parking lot. The plaintiff cited the contract between the snow removal company and the hospital. The contract provided that the company would clear the lots as frequently as possible, before each shift, and salt before and after a storm. The company moved for dismissal, arguing that they did not owe the woman a duty of care. The plaintiff appealed, contending, amongst other issues, that a duty exists under the doctrine of foreseeability and third-party liability.

Under New Hampshire law, plaintiffs intending to hold an at-fault party responsible for their injuries must meet the legal elements of a negligence claim. Generally, plaintiffs must establish that the at-fault party owed them a duty, that the defendant breached that duty, and that the breach resulted in foreseeable, proximate injuries and damages. In many cases, the foreseeability prong is easy to establish; however, challenges occur when the defendant argues that the victim’s injuries were not foreseeable or the party themselves were not a foreseeable plaintiff. New Hampshire law provides that parties owe a duty to those “foreseeably endangered by their conduct, whose likelihood and magnitude make the conduct unreasonably dangerous.” In this case, the court found that the snowplow services did not amount to unreasonably dangerous conduct, and the negligent activity did not outsize the harm sufficient to create a duty.

Recently, the Supreme Court of New Hampshire issued a ruling in an appeal stemming from a premises liability lawsuit against a property owner. The case originated after a man fell on a property while leaving a New Hampshire business. The man suffered injuries because of the fall, and he and his wife collectively filed a lawsuit against the property owner for negligence and loss of consortium. The couple alleged that the fall occurred because the stairs were inadequate, dangerous, and did not meet building codes. The complaint stated that the stairs were too steep and missing handrails.

Under New Hampshire law, property and business owners must ensure that their land is safe for guests and visitors. In most cases, if a person sustains injuries because of a dangerous condition on the property, they may be able to file a premises liability lawsuit against the owner. Some common places where these types of injuries occur are stores, apartment complexes, sidewalks, parks, restaurants, and residential homes.

In these cases, the victim must be able to establish that their injuries were because of the owner’s negligence or carelessness. Typical premises liability actions stem from slip and falls, property collapses, and animal bites. Often, a plaintiff will offer evidence that the property did not comply with applicable building and safety codes to establish liability. They may also point to dangerous aspects of the location, such as defects, missing safety features, poor lighting, disrepair, and lack of warning signs.

Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a New Hampshire personal injury case giving the court the opportunity to discuss product liability law as it pertained to the plaintiff’s claim that he contracted salmonella at the defendant restaurant. Ultimately, the court affirmed the jury’s $750,000 verdict in favor of the plaintiff.

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff contracted a case of salmonella shortly after consuming a hamburger while dining at the defendant restaurant. The plaintiff filed a New Hampshire personal injury case against the restaurant, claiming that it was liable for his injuries under the theory of strict product liability.

In its defense, the restaurant made several arguments, mostly focused on attacking the plaintiff’s theory of causation. For example, the restaurant pointed out that another person in the plaintiff’s party also ate a hamburger and that the plaintiff owned a pet lizard which could have been the source of the salmonella. The defendant also argued that the plaintiff ate other meals in between the meal at the defendant’s restaurant, and when he contracted salmonella.

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