GMSR secures affirmance of summary judgment for vacation-rental owners

GMSR’s clients own a rental home in the Palm Springs area.  Two weeks into a stay at the home, the renters’ 12-year old child was injured when she walked full-speed into a sliding glass door dating back to 1958.  The renters sued GMSR’s clients, alleging that the landlords owed a legal duty to replace the original sliding glass door with a modern, tempered glass door.

The Court of Appeal affirmed summary judgment for GMSR’s clients.  In a 2-to-1 decision, the majority held that California law imposes no duty on landlords to identify and replace un-tempered sliding glass doors with tempered glass doors if the original glass doors were code-compliant when they were installed.  In weighing the applicable duty factors, the Court of Appeal noted that (1) the doors complied with applicable codes when installed and no later-enacted codes required replacement; (2) no other renters had experienced issues with the door in the 14 years that the owners had rented the property; (3) and the renters had used the door multiple times a day for two weeks without incident.  On the other hand, the burden imposed on similarly situated landlords would be significant.  The court also affirmed the trial court’s exclusion of certain opinions by plaintiffs’ expert because they lacked foundation and contained inappropriate legal conclusions.