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The post below was published on Friday, October 8th, 2010 at 12:21 PM.

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Second District: Nondelegable Duties

Duty fans will appreciate this slip-and-fall decision from the Second District. The court explained that a negligence claim based on a nondelegable duty theory is sufficiently connected to an active negligence claim that an amendment alleging the former relates back to a complaint alleging the latter.

The decision includes an interesting discussion concerning the nature of nondelegable duty claims and how they differ from vicarious liability claims. As the court explained, nondelegable duty and vicarious liability claims are distinct from one another, even though they share some common characteristics and have occasionally been lumped together. Breaching a nondelegable duty is a form of active negligence.

The case involved a slip-and-fall on a business’s premises, and the court explained that the person in possession and control of such premises has a nondelegable statutory duty to maintain them in a reasonably safe condition. Hiring an independent contractor to maintain the premises does not eliminate this duty, the court held, and the owner’s “liability, if any, for the alleged breach of its nondelegable duty of care [i]s not dependent on the acts or omissions of” the independent contractor. Perhaps the key word there is “dependent” — the owner’s liability may well turn on the independent contractor’s alleged acts, just as if the contractor had been a mere agent.

Glancing at the counsel list, I am happy to see one of my former firm colleagues making her way. Nice win, Laura.

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