Thursday, June 22, 2023

Issues of Fact Prevent Entry of Summary Judgment in Slip and Fall Case

In the case of Spruill v. Dreher Ave. Holdings, No. 6444-CV-2021 (C.P. Monroe Co. April 17, 2023 Zulick, J.), the court denied a property owner’s Motion for Summary Judgment in a slip and fall case after finding that issues of material fact existed as to the cause and location of the ice and whether that condition allegedly caused the Plaintiff to fall.

According to the Opinion, the Plaintiff slipped and fell in her employer’s parking lot after leaving a Christmas party.

After discovery, the Defendant moved for summary judgment, claiming that the hills and ridges doctrine barred the Plaintiff’s claim.

The court noted that the Plaintiff had produced photographs and testimony that ice had accumulated around a drainpipe and then spread across the sidewalk, went over the curb, and ran across the surface of the parking lot.

The court ruled that the hills and ridges doctrine did not preclude liability where an icy condition was allegedly caused by a drainpipe or some other cause like a defective hydrant or water pipe.

Judge Zulick noted that, where a specific, localized patch of ice existed in the area that was otherwise free of ice and snow, the presence of the hills and ridges necessary to support the hills and ridges defense is not established.

The court found that material questions of fact and testimonial differences as to the cause and location of the ice, as well as whether that condition caused the Plaintiff to fall, required the court to deny the Motion for Summary Judgment.

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

Source: “Digest of Recent Opinions.” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (May 16, 2023).

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