Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Walking Over a Snow Covered Grassy Area is Deemed the Taking of an Open and Obvious Risk as a Matter of Law

In the case of Hinerman v. Westmoreland County Airport Auth., No. 732 C.D. 2022 (Pa. Cmwlth. June 15, 2023 Ceisler, J., Covey, J., and Leavitt, J.) (Op. by Ceisler, J.), the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court affirmed the entry of summary judgment in a slip and fall case.

In this matter, the Plaintiff, instead of using a paved walkway or the driveway, both of which were cleared, chose to instead walk across a snow covered grassy area where the Plaintiff then fell.  The Plaintiff thereafter brought suit against the Defendant.

The court ruled than snowy area that the Plaintiff chose to walk over was an open and obvious danger. The court noted that the uncertainties inherent in walking on snow covered ground are obvious as a matter of law. The Court found that, by taking a short cut across the snow covered ground, the Plaintiff accepted the risk that the underlying ground would be less suitable for walking.

The court reiterated the general rule that landowners do not have a duty to remove any and all dangers from any and all parts of their premises involving winter conditions.

As stated, the trial court's entry of summary judgment was affirmed.    

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

I send thanks to Attorney James M. Beck of the Philadelphia office of the Reed Smith law firm for bringing this case to my attention.

Source of image:  Photo by Eberhard Grossgasteiger on

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