In my May 28, 2009 post I wrote about the then recently published Wisconsin Court of Appeals case of Maryland Arms Limited Partnership v. Connell, 2009 WI App 87, __ Wis.2d __, 769 N.W.2d 145.
This was an important case because a divided Court of Appeals held that a tenant could not be held responsible for the damages that resulted after her hair dryer caused a fire which resulted in thousands of dollars of damage to her landlord’s rental property.
A key fact in the case was that the landlord agreed that the tenant was not negligent in causing the fire becasue she had no prior knowledge of the hair dryer being faulty. Another key fact in the case was that the tenant’s lease contained a provision that stated that the tenant would be responsible for all damages that were in any way caused by the acts of the tenant. The Court of Appeals held that such a lease provision was void.
The landlord in this case has petitioned the Supreme Court of Wisconsin to review the the case and the “Supremes” have agreed to hear the case. Oral arguments are to be held on January 6, 2010 and it is expected that a decision will be issued sometime in 2009-2010 term.
One of the main issues that the Wisconsin Supreme Court will have to decide is whether or not a landlord can contractually make a tenant liable for damage in a situation where the tenant is not negligent in causing the damage.
This will be an interesting case to watch and I will keep you updated as I learn more.