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Tenant can sue for lost possessions, landlord who fought demolition of fire-damaged premises may not

Charles Costa and his tenant, Ronald Carey Scott, sued the City of Detroit, claiming it was responsible for the loss of their personal property caused by the demolition of a fire-damaged building.  The Court of Appeals panel ruled that Costa, the owner, could not sue because he did not join his claim for personal property in his emergency legal action attempting to enjoin destruction of the property.  It upheld the tenant's right to sue on a limited basis because Scott, the tenant, was not a party to that action and not "in privity" with the landlord.

Because Scott pled that the building was structurally safe after the fire, such that he could have entered to rescue his property, he created a question of fact with regard to that issue.  Nevertheless, his other claims were dismissed on various technicalities (for example, his complaint of conversion did not expressly allege conversion by the City in avoidance of governmental immunity).
Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
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Traverse City, Michigan 49684
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