Tenant Sues Owner/Manager for Personal Injuries

This was originally published on the SGR Blog.

Was Occupant’s Use of Wrong Name (In)Curable?

Some cases raise complex questions of causation and other material facts. And some suits generate complicated and dispositive questions of law. But, as a recent case illustrates, some proceedings simply generate an over-the-top rating on the jurisprudential chutzpah scale.

Anthony Perez sued Garden Property Associates, LLC (owner) and DMARC 2007-CDS Garden Street, LLC (manager) for personal injuries sustained by the collapse of a ceiling in a bathroom of his apartment. Both GPA and DMARC moved to dismiss. Perez cross-moved to amend. The complaint was dismissed for lack of standing. Perez appealed.

It was undisputed that Anthony Perez was not injured in GPA’s apartment and therefore could not claim that he suffered an injury for which the owner/manager were responsible. The purportedly injured person, Wilfredo Pabon, deliberately used his cousin’s name, Anthony Perez, for many purposes, including the litigation.

Perez’ cross-motion to amend the complaint to state his purported legal name (Wilfredo Pabon) was properly denied, since the explanation that he had been using his cousin’s name as an alias since 2003 failed to establish that it was merely a misnomer in the description of the party plaintiff that required amendment. Although denominated a motion to amend the complaint to reflect Perez’ legal name, the cross-motion sought in effect to substitute a new party plaintiff, since there was no dispute that Anthony Perez existed and that his birthdate and social security number were different from those of Wilfredo Pabon.

Contrary to Perez’ contention, GPA and DMARC showed that they would be prejudiced by the amendment of the complaint to state Perez’ purported legal name, having been provided with false information as to his identity, i.e., Anthony Perez’s name and social security number. Perez did not reveal his purportedly true identity until his deposition, and made no showing that the owner/manager should have been aware from the outset that he was actually an individual named Wilfredo Pabon. And the difficulties that would remain in ascertaining which records pertained to Perez and which to Pabon were manifest.

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