Landlord Held Liable for Attorneys’ Fees

Landlord Held Liable for Attorneys’ Fees Associated with Tenant’s Injury Caused in Common Area

In Hemphill v. Wright Family, LLC, a California Appellate Court held that a landlord was liable for the tenant’s attorneys’ fees associated with bringing a lawsuit for damages arising from injuries caused by a hazardous condition in the common area. In Hemphill, Plaintiff leased a mobile home space in the Roadrunner Club. The Roadrunner Club is a 200-acre manufactured home park, including home sites, golf course, common areas, and large greenbelt. Plaintiff was walking through the common area and stepped in a drainage hole. He was severely injured. He sued the landlord. At trial, he received damages in the approximate amount of $312,000. He subsequently moved to recover his attorneys’ fees. The trial court denied that motion. He appealed, claiming that the lease had an attorneys’ fees provision relating to his tenancy. The issue was whether the injury relating a condition of a common area related to his lease. The appellate court held that because the landlord was obligated to maintain the common area, the attorneys’ fees provision applied to the lawsuit. The case was remanded back to the trial court for determination of the amount of the award of attorneys’ fees.

Shannon B. Jones, Partner,