Lower court’s jury instructions in slip and fall case affirmed by SC

The appeal made by a man from Luzerne County was denied by the Superior Court of Pennsylvania after he argued that the Common Pleas Luzerne County Court resulted to the improper jury instructions of a verdict pronounced against him in the injury lawsuit.

Last November 2010, Edward Stobodzian filed a claim sued against the following: (1) PNC Bank; (2) Varsity Lawn Care; and (3) J&J Snowplowing for injuries sustained while delivering coins to the Hazelton branch of PNC Bank on Feb. 11, 2010. After the heavy snowfall the night before, he slipped and fell on the sidewalk. He held the defendants liable for permitting slippery conditions to remain on the sidewalk.

Defendant Jason Samler representing J&J Snowplowing said that the snowfall ended before 9:00 o’clock in the morning of Feb. 11 with about 22 inches of snow accumulating in the area. Stobodzian claimed that when he fell, snow covered the parking lot and grounds of the bank were covered in snow and there was a under the snow was a base of ice.

Stobodzian argued that the trial court judge instructed the jury to look into the so-call doctrine of hills and ridges before making their decision. The doctrine is a protection for business owners from responsibility for existence of general slippery conditions due to ice and snow. According to this doctrine, the owner did not allow ice and snow to be unreasonable collected in ridges or on elevations.

The judge instructed further the jury that the owner of the land is required to clear ice and snow that has accumulated on the public walking surface found on his or her property within a reasonable time after he or she is on notice that a dangerous condition exists.

The liability of slip and fall accidents are attributed to business owners when there are remaining patches of ice on a walkway that has been clear or if there is a pipe leaking due to poor property maintenance causing an icy condition. The doctrine of hills and ridges considers the fact that it is nearly impossible to expect every business owner to keep their walkway completely cleared of snow and ice during or immediately after snowfall.

The contentions of Stobodzian are rested on whether the ice accumulating on the bank grounds was naturally occurred or man-made. He argued that based on what was shown in the testimony, cars and trucks getting into the parking lot are dragging in snow and slush. The SC agreed on the testimony, but countered that in this case, most of the snow and slush area accumulated by the entrance of the parking lot.

SC Anne Lazarus stated that uncontradicted testimony established the fact that slippery condition generally existed in the entire community because of a natural collection of snow during the day that Stobodzian slip and fell. Consequently, it was appropriate to use the instructions of hills and ridges.

If you have been the victim of a slip and fall, don’t delay in contacting us. It is crucial to get this type of claim started in a timely manner, because evidence can often disappear or be covered up in the aftermath of a slip and fall. Contact your accident lawyer and he/she will want to get started right away in order to collect evidence and interview witnesses before they begin to forget. In addition, there are also strict deadlines for filing a slip and fall claim no matter where you live.

Source: Penn Record Com


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