Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Judge Sibum of Monroe County Grants Summary Judgment Under Hills and Ridges Doctrine

In her recent decision in the case of Schecker v. Village Supermarkets, Inc., PICS Case No. 13-0491 (C.P. Monroe Feb. 13, 2013 Harlacher Sibum, J.), Monroe County Judge Jennifer Harlacher Sibum granted summary judgment to a defendant possessor of land in a snow and/or ice slip and fall case.

According to the opinion, the Plaintiff was dropped off at a supermarket by her husband.  She admittedly noticed that the cement walkway to the front of the store appeared wet but was not covered by snow or ice.  At the time she entered the store there was no snow otherwise in the parking lot and no precipitation was falling.

The Plaintiff exited the store about 15 minutes later pushing a shopping cart. As she walked across the cement surface outside the store she slipped and fell in an area just beyond the store's overhang.

In her Complaint, the Plaintiff alleged that she was caused to fall by a slippery walkway and due to the fact that black ice was allegedly present where she fell.  Discovery confirmed, however, that there were no areas of ice or snow present and that the area merely appeared wet.

In her Opinion, Judge Sibum reviewed the parameters of the Hills and Ridges Doctrine and the issue of actual and/or constructive notice on the part of the Defendants.

Based upon the record before it, the court found that the Plaintiff did not present any evidence that the ice on which she allegedly slipped had accumulated in ridges or elevations of such size and character as to unreasonably obstruct travel and constitute a danger as is all required under the Hills and Ridges Doctrine.

The Court also ruled that notice to the Defendant landowners could not be inferred from an employees' mere presence near the dangerous condition at the time of the incident.  Accordingly, the Defendant's motion for summary judgment was granted.

Anyone desiring a copy of this case may call the Pennsylvania Law Weekly's Instant Case Service at 1-800-276-7427 and give the above PICS Case No.  A small fee will be charged by the Instant Case Service.

Source:  "Case Digests." Pennsylvania Law Weekly (March 12, 2013).

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