Legal Memorandum: Liability for Death Caused to Third Party

Issue: Under Pennsylvania law, can a vendor of real property be held liable for injuries or death caused to a third party following the sale of the property?

Area of Law: Personal Injury & Negligence
Keywords: Liability of a vendor; Injuries or death caused to a third party; Dangerous or hazardous condition on the property
Jurisdiction: Pennsylvania
Cited Cases: 197 A.2d 880; 269 Pa. Super. 182; 804 P.2d 800; 167 Ariz. 71; 99 N.M. 598; 720 P.2d 476; 404 N.W.2d 400; 456 A.2d 524; 227 Cal. Rptr. 817; 445 A.2d 121; 288 P.2d 90; 499 A.2d 282; 24 Cal. App. 4th 1684; 92 N.J. 402; 524 A.2d 1372; 324 A.2d 532; 413 Pa. Super. 299; 184 A.2d 760; 661 P.2d 498; 531 A.2d 1125; 622 A.2d 319
Cited Statutes: The Restatement (Second) of Torts § 353, 352
Date: 11/01/2000

There is little guidance in the Pennsylvania as to whether a vendor may be held liable for the death of a third party after the sale of the property, particularly where that death arises out of a dangerous or hazardous condition on the property.  The treatises do make mention of Section 353 of the Restatement (Second) of Torts (1965) (hereinafter referred to as “Restatement (Second)”).  The Restatement (Second) § 353, provides that vendors of real estate may be liable, following a sale, if they fail to disclose to the vendee dangerous conditions which are known to them.  The Restatement specifically states:

(1) A vendor of land who conceals or fails to disclose to his vendee any condition, whether natural or artificial, which involves unreasonable risk to persons on the land, is subject to liability to the vendee and others upon the land with the consent of the vendee or his subvendee for physical harm caused by the condition after the vendee has taken possession, if

(a) the vendee does not know or have reason to know of the condition or the risk involved, and

(b) the vendor knows or has reason to know of the condition, and realizes or should realize the risk involved, and has reason to believe that the vendee will not discover the condition or realize the risk.

(2) If the vendor actively conceals the condition, the liability stated in Subsection (1) continues until the vendee discovers it and […]


Subscribe to Litigation Pathfinder

To get the full-text of this Legal Memorandum ... and more!

(Month-to-month and annual subscriptions available)