In this case, tenants sued their landlord for injuries sustained in a fire in the apartment building. The landlord met his initial burden on summary judgment by introducing testimony and a declaration from two fire inspectors who investigated the fire. Both said the fire was caused by a gas wall heater, but both said it was impossible to tell from the evidence that survived the fire whether the fire was caused by a malfunction of the heater (for which the landlord would be liable) or by a tenant’s placing combustible material too close to the heater. This showing was adequate prima facie proof that plaintiffs could not prove the causation element of their negligence claims. Since plaintiffs did not introduce any contrary evidence, summary judgment was properly entered against them.
California Court of Appeal, Fifth District (Pena, J.); February 8, 2018; 2018 WL 1082315.