Monday, April 26, 2021

Summary Judgment Granted in Monroe County Slip and Fall Case Where Precipitation Continued Up to Time of the Fall

In the case of Kulb v. Exeter 2086 Corp. Center, LLC, No.388-CV-2019 (C.P. Monroe Co. Feb. 5, 2021 Zulick, J.), the court granted a Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment in this slip and fall case because the Plaintiff failed to show that the Defendant owed a duty of care under the facts presented.   

According to the Opinion, the Plaintiff worked at a warehouse and sustained injuries when she slipped and fell when she left work shortly after midnight.   

The court noted that intermittent freezing rain had been occurring since the morning of the day leading up to the Plaintiff’s post-midnight fall.    The court also noted that the intermittent freezing rain had continued up through to the time of the incident.   

The Defendant snow removal company that was sued in this matter moved for summary judgment arguing that the hills and ridges doctrine protected it from liability.   

Judge Arthur K. Zulick of the Monroe County Court of Common Pleas noted that circumstantial evidence indicated that the rain had frozen on the surface of the sidewalk and the parking lot before the Plaintiff had left the building.   

The Plaintiff asserted that, when she left the building, the weather was clear and everything just appeared to be wet.  

However, when the Plaintiff stood up after her fall, she found that the parking uniformly slippery and that she had to walk very carefully to reach her vehicle.  When she reached her car, she discovered her car door was covered in ice and she had a difficult time opening her car door.  The Plaintiff also confirmed that she had to scrape ice off of her windshield before she could leave the parking lot area.   

The Defendant asserted that the ice was a natural accumulation.   The snow removal contractor asserted that it had worked on the subject premises on the day leading up to this post-midnight incident in an effort to remove the snow or ice.   

The court found that the Plaintiff did not identify any facts which suggested that the work completed by the Defendant caused the melting and refreezing of ice in the area where the Plaintiff fell.   

The court also held that the Plaintiff failed to demonstrate that the snow removal company had a duty to clear the generally slippery conditions that existed at the very moment that she fell.   In this regard, Judge Zulick reiterated Pennsylvania law that recognizes that it was not possible to keep walks and parking areas perpetually free of ice in the winter climate.   

Because the Plaintiff had failed to show that the Defendant snow removal contractor had breached any duty of care, the Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment was granted.  

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

Source:  “Digest of Recent Opinions.”  Pennsylvania Law Weekly (March 9, 2021). 





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