Hill v. Superior Property Management Services, Inc., 2013 UT 60 (October 11, 2013)

The Utah Supreme Court affirmed summary judgment in favor of a property maintenance company, finding that the company owed no duty towards a condominium resident who tripped on tree root offshoots concealed in the grassy common area of her complex. Hill, 2013 UT 60, ¶ 9. The court rejected all three of plaintiff’s theories for imposing tort liability on the company. Id. First, the court concluded that the company’s maintenance contract with the complex did not create a duty towards plaintiff because it did not say anything specifically about trimming tree roots. Id. ¶ 15. Second, the court found that the company did not “possess” the land, for the purposes of imposing premises liability, because it had no right to exclude persons from the property, and had only limited authority to perform authorized repair and maintenance services, while other services were contracted out to other companies. Id. ¶ ¶ 19 – 20. Finally, the court held that the company had not voluntarily undertaken maintenance of the tree root hazard, even though it had mowed over them on occasion, because it did voluntarily do anything meaningfully aimed at remedying the tree roots. Id. ¶ ¶ 40 – 41.