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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Mohammed Khan worked for La Sani Inc. at a gas station La Sani operated pursuant to a lease and dealer agreement with Shell Oil Co. During most of his night shift, Khan worked inside the station behind locked doors and bullet-proof glass, but his duties also required him to emerge and clean the outside areas of the station before the morning’s heavy traffic began. At approximately 4:15 a.m. on Aug. 27, 1997, he was cleaning the service-bay areas when a man emerged from the shadows wearing a bandana over his face and carrying a rifle. Khan ran to the store, but was unable to close and lock the door before the assailant shot him in the left leg. The identity of the assailant is unknown. Khan and his wife, Jamila Williams, filed negligence and gross negligence claims against Shell, La Sani and Saleem Syed (La Sani’s sole stockholder). Shell successfully moved for summary judgment on the basis that it owed Khan no duty, and the judgment became final upon severance from the claims against the remaining defendants. The court of appeals reversed, finding some evidence that Shell had a right to control certain security-related matters. HOLDING:Reversed and rendered that Khan take nothing. Generally, an owner of land does not owe any duty to ensure independent contractors perform their work in a safe manner. An owner may be liable if it specifies by contract a particular safety device and then approves operations that omit it. But the contract here made no mention of security personnel, and delegated entirely to La Sani the duty to hire “adequate and competent” employees. This is not enough to show a contractual right to control hiring, or to make Shell responsible because La Sani chose not to hire security personnel. The court finds that Shell had neither contractual nor actual control of Khan’s training. Khan has presented no evidence that Shell had a right to control security related activities at the station. As an independent contractor with sole control of safety and security operations, La Sani owed Khan a duty to conduct those operations with care, but Shell did not. The trial court properly granted summary judgment to that extent. The conditions that Khan asserts contributed to his injuries predated La Sani’s lease. As no concealed hazards are alleged, when Shell relinquished possession of the premises, it also relinquished to La Sani the duty to warn of or eliminate any unreasonably dangerous premises defects that existed. Right-to-control issues arise only when a premise defect is created after a lessee enters possession; the court has never held a lessor liable for pre-existing unconcealed defects merely because it retained a contractual right to make or approve of alterations. Texas law recognizes landlords have several duties with respect to premises turned over to tenants. As already noted, they have a duty to disclose concealed dangers, and a duty of care as to common areas where they retain possession. If they agree to make repairs, they have a duty to complete them with care. But they do not become liable for existing premises defects merely by retaining the right to re-enter the premises to make alterations. The court of appeals erred in holding to the contrary. Both the lease and the dealer agreement provided La Sani could not alter the station’s buildings or equipment without Shell’s prior written approval; the lease added that Shell’s approval “could not be unreasonably withheld.” There was no evidence La Sani requested any alterations after signing the contracts and entering into possession. But there was evidence La Sani asked Shell to make extensive upgrades during pre-contract negotiations. The court of appeals held this was enough to establish potential liability, but this court disagrees. OPINION: Brister, J., delivered the court’s opinion.

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