Thursday, June 10, 2021

Court Rules That Reasonableness Standard of Hills and Ridges Doctrine Also Applies When Snow Falls From a Roof

In the case of Sylvester v. Alvin Ziegler Snow Removal, No. 2933-CV-2019 (C.P. Monroe Co. April 6, 2021 Zulick, J.), the court granted Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment in a slip and fall case after finding that the Defendants’ failure to remove snow from roof tops during an ongoing snowstorm was not unreasonable.   According to the Opinion, the Plaintiff was allegedly injured by snow falling off of a roof as he was leaving his place of employment.  

The record before the court indicated that the Defendants had entered into a contract with the owner of the property to remove snow from the premises.   

The Plaintiff filed suit in this matter alleging negligence against the Defendants for failing to clear snow from the roof. The Plaintiff was allegedly injured as he was leaving a building and snow that had accumulated on a roof during a severe snowstorm had fallen upon the Plaintiff.

The Defendants moved for summary judgment.   

The Plaintiff asserted that the hills and ridges doctrine, which afforded a landlord a reasonable amount of time to remove dangerous conditions caused by ice and snow, applied to walkways and not to snow falling on a roof.   

The court rejected this argument and found that the same reasonableness standard found under the doctrine applied whether the snow to be removed was on the ground or on the roof.   

The court also emphasized that this winter event involved a major snowstorm that dropped more than 20 inches of snow and had even made the roadways impassable.   The court rejected the Plaintiff’s argument that the Defendants should have worked longer to remove snow from the rooftops during this severe and ongoing snowstorm in order to prevent injury to the Plaintiff.

As noted above, summary judgment was granted in favor of the Defendants.   

Anyone wishing to review this decision may click this LINK.

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