Can a landlord sue for an exterior fire just because tenant is a smoker and it appears to have started by a cigarette?

UPDATED: Jun 30, 2012

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Can a landlord sue for an exterior fire just because tenant is a smoker and it appears to have started by a cigarette?

The tenant is not the only smoker in the building and fire investigator says no butt was found where the fire started.

Asked on June 30, 2012 under Real Estate Law, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

He can sue, in that he can certainly file a lawsuit, and he may be able to, depending on how he states his claim, survive an initial motion to dismiss. However, to win the lawsuit, he would have to prove by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not) that his smoker caused this fire, which seems unlikely, unless he gets some eyewitness testimony (e.g. other tenants testifying that they saw this tenant flick a still-lit butt into the spot were the fire started).

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