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Craig Steichen v. Talcott Properties

January 8, 2013

CRAIG STEICHEN, PLAINTIFF AND APPELLANT,
v.
TALCOTT PROPERTIES, LLC; BRESNAN COMMUNICATIONS, LLC, DEFENDANTS AND APPELLEES.



APPEAL FROM: District Court of the Eighth Judicial District, In and For the County of Cascade, Cause No. BDV-08-457 Honorable Julie Macek, Presiding Judge

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mike McGrath

Submitted on Briefs: September 4, 2012

Decided: January 8, 2013

Filed:

Clerk

Chief Justice Mike McGrath delivered the Opinion of the Court.

¶1 Craig Steichen appeals from the District Court's December 27, 2011 order granting summary judgment to Talcott Properties. We reverse.

¶2 We consolidate the issues for review stated by Steichen and we consider the following issue to be dispositive: whether Talcott as a property owner had a duty of care to Steichen.

PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND

¶3 Talcott owned a building in Great Falls and leased space in the building to Bresnan Communications. Steichen worked as an independent contractor for Bresnan, providing office cleaning services three nights a week. He had no contractual relationship with Talcott. The incident that gave rise to this action occurred on July 17, 2005, when Steichen slipped in water on a restroom floor during his cleaning duties in Talcott's building, and sustained a personal injury.

¶4 Under the Talcott-Bresnan lease, Talcott was required to "maintain the building structurally, including the roof and the water, gas, sewage, electrical, heating and cooling systems therein, together with the interior and exterior surfaces of the building." Bresnan was responsible for "routine painting, cleaning and care of the interior of the leased premises" including the interior lights. According to the District Court order, there was a chronic problem with water that leaked from the plumbing onto the restroom floor where Steichen fell. Bresnan periodically called Talcott to report the leak, and Taclott would "send somebody over" to address the problem. Despite Talcott's responses on these occasions, the plumbing in the men's room continued to leak water onto the floor. Talcott's practice was to address maintenance of the building when Bresnan notified it of a problem. Talcott did not have an inspection schedule or a written maintenance policy for the building.

¶5 Steichen also alleged that there was a chronic problem with the lighting in the building, including the lighting in the men's room. Pursuant to the lease, Bresnan assumed responsibility for maintaining the lighting. Plaintiff alleges that when he fell and sustained injury the lighting in the men's room was dim and there was a puddle of water on the floor.

ΒΆ6 Steichen sued Bresnan and Talcott. He settled with Bresnan and the District Court granted summary judgment ...


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