Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Summary Judgment Secured in Slip and Fall Case Against Municipality in Lackawanna County

My partner, Timothy E. Foley, Esquire and myself were successful in securing a summary judgment for the defense in the slip and fall case of Gerrity v. The City of Scranton, No. 07 CV 6476 (Lacka. Co. March 17, 2010 Leete, S.J.).

The Plaintiff alleged injuries as a result of allegedly slipping and falling on ice and/or snow that had accumulated in the area of a depressed or sub-grade manhole cover on a City of Scranton alleyway.

The defense argued that, under Pennsylvania law, municipalities were not liable and/or enjoyed immunity from liability for injuries caused by naturally accumulated ice or snow on city streets under the Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act. It was additionally asserted that the immunity afforded to the City was not defeated by the application of the Streets Exception of the statute. Lastly, the defense asserted that, regardless, the Plaintiff was unable to prove any actual or constructive notice on the part of the City of any allegedly dangerous condition of the snow or ice on the roadways.

Specially Presiding Senior Judge John Leete, of Potter County, presided over this argument. In his Opinion and Order he found, as a matter of first impression and viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the Plaintiff, that the Plaintiff's fall was potentially caused, in part, by the uneven surface created by the below-grade manhole cover which was part "of," rather than merely located on, the street. He further noted that "[a]ny snow accumulating therein could thus be seen as being exacerbated by an artificial condition sufficient to fall under the 'streets' exception."

However, Judge Leete went on to find that the Plaintiff failed to sustain his burden of showing any actual or constructive notice of any such allegedly dangerous condition so as to warrant a submission of the case to a jury. As such, summary judgment was entered in favor of Defendant, The City of Scranton.

Anyone desiring a copy of this Opinion may contact me at dancummins@comcast.net

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