Renato and Joleen lived with their two small children in an apartment. One day when Joleen was alone with the kids Joleen heard one child screaming. She was in the bathroom, and could not see the kids. At first she assumed it was horseplay. When the screaming continued Joleen went to investigate.
Joleen discovered her child trapped between a radiator and the wall. The child suffered second and third degree burns. Renato and Joleen sued the landlord on behalf of the child. The trial court dismissed their personal injury claim. Renato and Joleen appealed.
The landlord controlled the temperature of the radiator from a central control which the tenants could not access. The tenants argued that the landlord kept the temperature of the radiator too high. The on/off control in the apartment was painted shut, so that the tenants could not turn it off.
While they argued in a brief that the radiator was not up to code, the tenant’s attorney conceded at oral argument that in fact the radiator was compliant with building codes. The Court of Appeals found no building code violation in the record or by searching applicable codes.
The Court noted that the radiator worked for its intended purpose of heating the apartment, and therefore they concluded that it was not defective.
The Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal.
This case shows that even if someone is injured on another person’s property, proving liability is not always cut-and-dried. If you have been injured in someone else’s property it is important to have an attorney give a free evaluation of your personal injury claim as soon as possible.
By personal injury attorney Travis Scott Eller
 Figracion v. Rembrant Realty Trust, unpublished (No. 45779-2-II June 16, 2015).