New Jersey Legislature Changes The Law After Infant Burn Injury And Premises Liability Lawsuit Filed By John Molinari

The law firm of Blume Forte was retained by the family of an infant after the child suffered severe burns from a steam radiator in a multiple-family dwelling in Jersey City. John Molinari filed a lawsuit on behalf of the young boy and his family against the landlord of the building alleging that the landlord had an obligation to make the premises safe for its tenants and their guests. A Hudson County Superior Court Judge dismissed the claims finding that the landlord had no obligation to cover the radiator either under Common Law or by the New Jersey Administrative Code. An appeal was taken and the Appellate Division of New Jersey unanimously reversed the Trial Court ruling and reinstated the family’s claim. The landlord appealed that decision and the matter was accepted by the New Jersey Supreme Court. In March of 2019, the court considered the legal briefs submitted by all sides and heard oral argument on the issue. On July 31, 2019, the Supreme Court disagreed with the Appellate Division and again dismissed the family’s claim finding that there was no duty on the landlord. 

The supreme court decision was reported in many news outlets and as a result of the publicity, the New Jersey Legislature began working on a change in the law that would require landlords of a residential property to cover steam radiators with an insulating material or guard. The law was signed on November 8, 2021 by Governor Murphy and it becomes effective on February 1, 2022. Through the efforts of John Molinari and the law firm of Blume, Forte, Fried, Zerres & Molinari, a change in the law was made and although it does not directly benefit our former client and his family, it should help to protect other children, tenants, and their guests from suffering similar burn injuries.