Thursday, October 20, 2022

Slip and Fall Case Against Store Dismissed, But Allowed To Proceed Against Realty Company

In the case of Pukanecz v. Target Corp., No. 5:22-CV-00327 (E.D. Pa. Sept. 1, 2022 Leeson, J.), the court granted a Defendant store’s Motion for Summary Judgment in a slip and fall case but denied a similar Motion filed by a realty company.

According to the Opinion, Plaintiff slipped in the store parking lot.

The Plaintiff sued the store, a realty company whose subsidiary owned the shopping center where the store was located. That subsidiary had contracted with a snow and ice removal contractor.

In this case, the Defendant store and the realty company moved for summary judgment.

The court found that no reasonable jury could find that the store had a duty to maintain the parking lot. More specifically, the terms of the store’s lease agreement required the landlord to maintain, repair, and operate the common elements, which were defined to include all parking areas.

The realty company argued that it did not own the property and was not liable for events that occurred on it. The realty company attempted to assert that any ownership liability lay with the subsidiary to whom the property was deeded. The Plaintiff countered with an argument that the realty company was directly liable for virtue of its direct involvement with an operation of the property.

The court found that there were genuine issues of material fact as to liability in this regard. As support for this finding, the court noted, in part, that the contract for the snow and ice removal referred, in multiple instances, to both the realty company as well as the subsidiary. That contract also required the snow removal company to indemnify the realty company against certain losses.

As such, the Court granted the Defendant store's Motion for Summary Judgment, finding that the store itself owed no duty to the Plaintiff.  Accordingly, Target was dismissed from the case.  

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.  The Court's companion Order can be viewed HERE

Source: “Digest of Recent Opinions.” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (Sept. 27, 2022).

Source of above image:  Photo by Joshua on

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