In Tenant v. Owner and Property Manager, et al. (S.F. Sup.Ct.) Richard H. Schoenberger, Matthew D. Davis, and Jeffrey A. Clause recovered $3,500,000 on behalf of the surviving husband and parents of a 27-year-old San Francisco resident who experienced a “night terror” and fell from the fourth floor window of her San Francisco apartment in the middle of the night. Plaintiffs included both the surviving husband and the decedent’s parents.
The Walkup team argued that the window sills were too low to the ground and created an obvious fall hazard which the property management company should have recognized and remedied. At the time the apartment building was constructed, building codes allowed window sills to be 18 inches from the floor. Because such low window sills led to a significant amount of falls, the California Building Code was amended in 2013 to require that no window sill be lower than 36 inches from the ground, unless certain safety devices that prevent the window from opening more than four inches were installed. Though the building code changes did not apply to this particular property. Rich, Matt and Jeff argued that industry standards mandated that the property owner and management company modify the windows for safety reasons. Had the defendants met these industry standards, the decedent would be alive today.