Friday, August 20, 2021

Summary Judgment Granted Based Upon Hills and Ridges Doctrine

In the case of Nucitelli v. Oakview Terrace Condominium Assoc., Inc., No. 7050-CIVIL-2019 (C.P. Monroe Co. June 28, 2021 Williamson, J.), the court granted the Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment in a slip and fall case based upon the hills and ridges doctrine.

According to the Opinion, the Plaintiff fell while exiting her apartment and walking towards her car.

The court noted that a wintry mix of precipitation had occurred from 6:51 p.m. the day before the Plaintiff’s fall until at least 7:15 a.m. on the day of the fall. The weather report also showed rain through at least 9:45 a.m. on the day of the Plaintiff’s fall. 

The record showed that the Plaintiff had fallen at approximately 8:00 a.m. during that day.

According to the Opinion, the Plaintiff stated that, as she was coming down the outside steps from her apartment, she slipped and fell on “black ice.” She described the condition as “not shiny” but she did not know if the ice was smooth or flat.

The court also noted that the Plaintiff admitted that she did not know how those conditions were created or how long they had existed. She also had no evidence to show that the Defendant was aware of or had been notified of the condition of the steps on the day of the fall.

After reviewing the current status of the hills and ridges doctrine, the court entered summary judgment.

The court additionally noted that there was no evidence presented that the Defendant failed to act with reasonable care under the circumstances. Nor was there any evidence as to who was actually responsible for maintaining the stairs upon which the Plaintiff fell. The Plaintiff had admitted that she often salted and removed snow from the stairs herself.

The court was also influenced by the fact that the record appeared to confirm that the condition was possibly created by the wintry mix that occurred over night and had switched to rain approximately 45 minutes before the Plaintiff fell.

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

I send thanks to Attorney Jason Banonis of the Allentown, Pennsylvania office of the Marshall Dennehey, Warner, Coleman & Goggin law firm for bringing this case to my attention.

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