Breaking Good

Chris Beeman and Ashley Meyers recently won a motion for Nonsuit in Napa County Superior Court. The case involved an allegation of negligent property management against our firm’s client, whose adult son was using and selling methamphetamines and was involved in burglarizing and then burning down the Plaintiffs’ vacation home in Napa.

Our client lived with her adult son at a home owned by her parents. Plaintiffs argued that the Defendant was acting as a property manager and that she had an obligation to investigate suspicions regarding her son’s drug use and possession of stolen property, which they allege was stored at her home where her son lived. Plaintiffs further contended that she had an obligation to either evict her son or to contact the police based on her suspicions. After the Plaintiffs’ case in chief, the Court rejected the Plaintiffs’ argument and granted the Motion for Nonsuit. The Court determined that no duty exists for property managers which would extend to crimes which occurred outside the managed property. The Court also found that, under the Rowland v. Christian factors, balancing the burden on the Defendant with the foreseeability of the injury, the burden on a parent to evict her adult child or to report him to the police was substantial and the act of residential burglary and arson were not adequately foreseeable to overcome that significant burden. Based on these factors, the Court determined that the Plaintiffs had not established the existence of a duty owed by the Defendant to the Plaintiffs, and dismissed their case.