Thursday, January 14, 2021

Borough May Face Liability for Covering Stop Sign by Snow Removal Efforts

In the case of Cupelli v. Borough of Dunmore, No. 1662-C.D.-2019 (Pa. Cmwlth. Dec. 21, 2020 Jubelirer, J., Wojcik, J., and Cannon, J.) (Op. by Cannon, J.) (Opinion not reported), the court found that snow negligently plowed by a borough can create an artificial accumulation based upon which a Plaintiff may assert a cause of action where that artificial accumulation of snow renders a traffic control device ineffective or unsafe. 

According to the Opinion, the Plaintiff was injured when the all-terrain vehicle (ATV) on which he was a passenger collided with a motor vehicle accident at the intersection of two (2) public roadways.

In the personal injury Complaint filed by the Plaintiff it was allowed the Borough had improperly piled snow in the area of that intersection and that such pile of snow resulted in the accident. More specifically, the Plaintiff alleged that the Borough’s workers failed to maintain a stop sign or the area around the stop sign at the intersection in that they had plowed snow to such heights around the stop sign as to create a reasonably foreseeable risk of injury. The court came before the appellate court by way of an interlocutory appeal by permission after the lower court’s rulings on Preliminary Objections asserted by the defense.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this unreported Commonwealth Court decision may click this LINK.

I send thanks to Attorney Bruce S. Zero of the Scranton office of Powell Law for brining this case to my attention.

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