Ari R. Lieberman, an associate Louis Grandelli, P.C., recently won a precedent-setting appeal in Lalla v. State of New York, further expanding a plaintiff's right to recover in slip and fall cases. The plaintiff, Nicole Lalla, slipped and fell due to a snow and ice condition at the College of Staten Island. The evidence submitted at trial demonstrated that the snowfall had stopped during the night prior to the accident and that steps leading to a building had not been cleared of snow and ice. The evidence further showed that Ms. Lalla was left with no alternative cleared route to travel safely to her class. Despite this evidence, at trial, the judge determined that the College of Staten Island was not negligent in the happening of the accident. Mr. Lieberman, submitted the brief to the Appellate Division, Second Department, arguing that the trial court's determination should be reversed as a matter of law. The appellate panel reversed the trial court's determination and found that the College of Staten Island should have removed the snow and ice from the stairway, and were, therefore, negligent. Significantly, the Second Department found that the plaintiff was not negligent at all in the happening of the accident, since she was not provided an alternate safe route. If you or someone you know has been injured in a slip and fall accident, contact Louis Grandelli, P.C.
After months of a record cold New York winter, formerly safe passageways, paths, and sidewalks have all too often become dangerous as they are covered in ice and snow. While diligent property owners and municipalities do their part to keep all routes safe some of them inevitably fail to shovel and salt. As a result, many New Yorkers have no choice but to risk trying to walk through the ice and snow to get where they need to go.
In New York City, a landowner has the duty to clear snow and ice from the sidewalk, and their failure to do so can be the basis for liability in a slip and fall case. This is true for a private landowner, as well as the City. However, a long standing defense for landowners in snow and ice cases is the "Storm in Progress" defense. Courts have long recognized that the duty of the property owner to clear snow and ice from public paths, parking lots, roadways, and sidewalks, does not commence until a reasonably sufficient time after a storm has ended.