Prior to February 9, 2004, a commercial property owner generally was able
to escape liability if a public street sign located upon the owner’s sidewalk or curb was missing or obstructed or down since the sign was a matter outside
of the landlord’s control. However, the New Jersey Supreme Court in Monaco v. Hartz Mountain Corporation, decided on the above date, has ruled otherwise.
The issue in this case centered upon the liability of a commercial landowner where a traffic sign, situated on its sidewalk, became dislodged and caused injury to the landowner’s invitee.
Both the Trial Court and the Appellate Division ruled in favor of the commercial
landowner, holding that there was no “legal” duty with respect to the sign that
was owned and installed by the municipality and over which the landowner
had no control.