Owner Not Liable for Slip-and-Fall Injury
Facts: In December 2007, a resident slipped and fell in front of the owner’s building while stepping up to the curb and onto a five- or six-inch mound of snow. The resident claimed that the owner was negligent in removing snow from the sidewalk.
The owner argued that according to all meteorological data, there couldn’t have been such an accumulation of snow and/or ice on that date, and, other than the resident’s testimony, there’s no independent admissible evidence to contradict the meteorological findings.
According to the resident’s testimony, approximately four days prior to the date of the occurrence, she saw two building employees operating two motorized vehicles pushing snow from the sidewalk in front of the building to the curb. She further said that she thought that it had snowed three or four days before her accident. The resident provided photographs of the area in which the accident took place, but those photographs were taken about one week after the occurrence, and there had been a snowfall in the interim period. The resident admitted that the photographs didn’t portray the conditions existing at the time of the accident.
The supervisor of groundskeepers at the site testified that motorized equipment is used to clear snow or ice from the sidewalk when there’s an accumulation of one to one-and-a-half inches, and that such removal is recorded in a snow removal log. If the depth of the snow is below one-and-a-half inches, the staff clears the area with shovels and salt.
According to the snow removal log, the only day that any snow removal action was taken for the month of December 2007 was Dec. 16, the day after the accident, to remove sleet that fell on the 16th, and no ice or snow conditions were recorded for the entire period.
The owner asked the court to dismiss the case and to deny admitting the resident’s photographs into evidence since they were taken several days after the accident, snow had fallen in the interim, and the resident conceded that they didn’t represent the curb at the time of the occurrence.
Ruling: A New York trial court granted the owner’s request.
Reasoning: The climatological report provided by the owner was compiled from weather conditions only slightly over one mile from the location of the accident, according to an expert witness. Moreover, the building’s snow removal log and daily log books substantiate the assertion that there was no snow removal or snow for over one week prior to the incident in question. And the court ruled that the photograph of the scene of the alleged accident wasn’t admissible.
- Perez v. NYCHA, October 2012