Liability for Fire Injury Caused by a Defective Wall Heater

In Golden v. Conway (1976) 55 Cal. App. 3d 948, 951, 964, 128 Cal. Rptr. 69, the court reversed a directed verdict against a tenant who suffered personal property damage from a fire allegedly caused by a defective wall heater the landlord had installed on the leased premises. The court stated: "In this case we see no reason to distinguish between appliances which are attached to the realty, and appliances or furniture which are not." (Id. at p. 961.) Golden therefore implicitly concluded that the doctrine of strict products liability applies to appliances or other manufactured component products that are installed in buildings. Golden stated: "We conclude that a lessor of real property who, as the landlord in this case, is engaged in the business of leasing apartments and appurtenant commercial premises, equips the premises with an appliance without knowing whether or not it is defective because of the manner in which it was manufactured or installed, and it proves to have defects which cause injury to persons or property when used in a normal manner, is strictly liable in tort." (Golden v. Conway, supra, 55 Cal. App. 3d at pp. 961-962.) That conclusion, however, may have been limited by the California Supreme Court's subsequent opinion in Peterson v. Superior Court, supra, 10 Cal. 4th 1185, discussed ante. Regardless of the continuing validity of Golden's conclusion on a landlord's strict products liability, we believe its observation on the lack of a distinction between appliances attached to realty and appliances not attached to realty continues to be persuasive in strict products liability cases.