Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Hills and Ridges Doctrine Applies to Naturally Accumulating Snow and Ice

Natural accumulation of snow

In the unpublished, "Non-precedential" decision of the Pennsylvania Superior Court in the case of Stobodzian v. PNC Fin. Serv. Grp., No. 33 MDA 2014 (Pa. Super. Aug. 5, 2014) (Memorandum Op.) (Lazarus, J., Wecht, J., Musmanno, J.) Opinion by Lazarus, J.), the court ruled that the trial court property applied the hills and ridges jury instruction where the Plaintiff asserted that he was injured as a result of a slip and fall in a bank parking lot due to a natural accumulation of snow.  

At trial, evidence was produced that snow fall on February 10, 2010 was approximately 22 inches and that it stopped snowing on the morning of February 11, 2010 at approximately 9:00 a.m.   The Plaintiff fell the following day, February 12, 2010.  

After a trial on the issues presented, the jury entered a defense verdict.   The trial court denied the Plaintiff’s Motions Not Withstanding the Verdict and for a new trial.  

One of the issues on appeal involved the Plaintiff’s argument that the trial court should not applied the hills and ridges doctrine jury instruction under the circumstances presented.  The court rejected the Plaintiff’s argument that the slush in the parking lot area was an artificial condition created by human intervention in the form of vehicles pulling into the parking lot and dragging snow and slush with them.   The court noted that the evidence established that generally slippery conditions existed in the community due to a natural accumulation of recent snow fall.   Under such circumstances, the hills and ridges jury instruction was deemed appropriate.  

Anyone wishing to review this non-precedential decision may click this LINK.


Source of  snowfall image: www.ktsm.com

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