Landlord's Liability for Injuries Caused by Manufacturer's Negligence
In Peterson v. Superior Court (1995) 10 Cal. 4th 1185, 1188-1189, 899 P.2d 905, the California Supreme Court overruled its earlier decision in Becker v. IRM Corp. (1985) 38 Cal. 3d 454, 213 Cal. Rptr. 213, 698 P.2d 116 and held that landlords and hotel owners are not subject to strict products liability for injuries to their tenants and guests that are caused by a defect in the premises.
In Peterson a hotel guest was injured when she slipped and fell in a bathtub that was installed as a component of the hotel. (Peterson, supra, at p. 1189.)
The guest alleged a strict products liability cause of action against the manufacturer of the bathtub and the hotel owner. (Ibid.)
Before trial the bathtub manufacturer entered into a settlement agreement with the guest. (Ibid.)
In holding that the hotel owner was not subject to strict products liability, the court noted that it would be improper to hold the hotel owner strictly liable for a defective bathtub that it did not create or market. (10 Cal. 4th at pp. 1188, 1199.)
The court stated:
"A hotel owner is not a part of the chain of distribution of a bathtub that is installed in a hotel room, just as a restaurant owner is not the equivalent of a retailer of toilets simply because the restaurant provides restroom facilities to its patrons, and just as an owner of a business is not the equivalent of a retailer of ceiling fans simply because one is installed on the premises to promote the comfort of customers of the business. In such circumstances, the bathtub, toilets, and ceiling fans left the stream of commerce when they were purchased and installed in the premises of the various businesses." (10 Cal. 4th at p. 1199.)
Although the court concluded landlords and hotel owners are not subject to strict products liability, it expressly noted that the manufacturer of a defective component product, like the slippery bathtub, would be subject to strict products liability. (10 Cal. 4th at p. 1210.)
The court stated:
"The injured tenant or guest is not deprived of any strict products liability cause of action that may lie against the manufacturer, distributor, or retailer of a defective product that causes the injury." (Ibid.)
Peterson therefore implicitly acknowledged that the manufacturer of a defective product that is installed as a component part of a larger product is subject to strict products liability.