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PRATT v. SCOTT ENTERPRISES (04/19/66)

decided: April 19, 1966.

PRATT
v.
SCOTT ENTERPRISES, INC., APPELLANT



Appeal from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County, Oct. T., 1962, No. 485, in case of Robert T. Pratt v. Scott Enterprises, Inc., Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company, and Jeannette Glass Company.

COUNSEL

Robert E. Wayman, with him Blair A. Griffith, and Wayman, Irvin, Trushel & McAuley, for original defendant, appellant.

B. Earnest Long, for plaintiff appellee.

Daniel R. Edwards, with him H. Reginald Belden, and Stewart, Belden, Sensenich & Herrington, for additional defendant, appellee.

Vincent Williams, with him Smith, Best and Horn, for original defendant, appellee.

Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien and Roberts, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Musmanno.

Author: Musmanno

[ 421 Pa. Page 47]

On February 3, 1962, Robert T. Pratt, an employee of the Jeannette Glass Company, was operating a tow motor on the first floor of a warehouse owned by Scott Enterprises in South Greensburg, when the floor gave way and he fell with the machine into the basement, sustaining serious injuries. He brought suit in trespass against the Scott Enterprises, owners of the building, and the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company, tenant on the first floor. The Jeannette Glass Company, which had leased the premises prior to the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company's lease, but which had not yet

[ 421 Pa. Page 48]

    completely vacated the premises at the time of the accident, was brought in as an additional defendant. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff and against the defendant Scott Enterprises in the sum of $125,000. The Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company and the Jeannette Glass Company were freed of liability by the jury's verdict. Scott Enterprises filed motions for judgment n.o.v. and a new trial, which were refused. This appeal followed.

Nothing was advanced at the oral argument or appears in the briefs which would justify judgment n.o.v., so we will proceed to a consideration of the motion for a new trial. The appellant contends that the lower court erred in charging the jury on the duties of a landlord of a building accommodating multiple tenants.

It appears that Scott Enterprises had purchased the warehouse in question from the American Glass Company on February 4, 1958, and at the time of the purchase, the first floor was under lease to the Thatcher Glass Company. Scott then leased the first floor to the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company but, as Jeannette Glass Company, leasing part of the first floor, had not removed all its equipment and stock when Pittsburgh Plate moved in, the latter entered into an oral sublease with Jeannette for such time as it needed to take away its property. The plaintiff Robert T. Pratt was an employee of Jeannette.

The appellant contends that the plaintiff failed, because of the leasing and subleasing, to establish that Scott is the party liable for his injuries. Anyone who is injured in a building where he has the right to be, as the result of the negligence of the landlord who is not out of possession and is in control, is not required to grope his way through a labyrinth of lease and sublease provisions with their thickets of verbiage, ...


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