Tenant who repaired defective handrail cannot sue landlord who installed it
Deborah Marino fell down the stairs in her rented home when a stairway handrail detached from the wall. She and her husband claimed the handrail had been anchored only in the drywall and not in a wall stud. Unfortunately, they repaired the handrail and drywall before filing suit for the injuries she suffered. The appellate court upheld the trial court's decision to exclude any evidence of the manner in which the handrail had been mounted, since the landlord was not allowed the opportunity to inspect the failure before it was repaired.
The Marinos had argued that since the landlord had installed the handrail improperly, the landlord's right to "examine" the defect had been fulfilled in advance and was unnecessary. The Court disagreed. Without evidence of a defect in the form of the Marino's testimony or pictures--now both excluded--the Court determined that they could not meet their burden of proving the defect in the handrail and the case was dismissed.