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Slip-and-fall suit ends in favor of defendant

A judge at the common pleas court in Erie County, Pennsylvania, recently heard a case that involved snow, ice and a fall. The premises liability suit named a collision shop in Erie, Pennsylvania, as the defendant.

On Jan. 27, 2007, a female employee with Enterprise Rent-A-Car had gone to the collision shop to retrieve a rental car to deliver it to a customer. According to court records, the car had been parked on a lower-level parking lot by another Enterprise employee, which meant she had to walk down a hill to get to it.

The hill was visibly covered in snow and there was no indication, according to the woman's testimony, indicated that the parking lot had been plowed, shoveled or salted. When walking down the hill, she slipped and fell. The lawsuit claimed that the collision shop was negligent in failing to remove snow from the hill.

According to the law, a landowner is liable for any injury that is caused to a business invitee if the landowner should have known about dangerous conditions.

The collision shop argued that the Enterprise employee was a licensee rather than a business invitee. The judge considered her a business invitee because she was present at the site due to the delivery of a rental car, a responsibility that would benefit the collision shop.

Despite this, the judge found in favor of the shop. The judge added that residents of areas that typically receive inclement weather such as heavy snowstorms should realize that a snow-covered hill is likely to be covered in ice as well.

While this round did not end favorably for the plaintiff, she could appeal the ruling if she wished. Even if someone should know there is ice, shouldn't the landowner be responsible for making sure conditions are safe?

Source: Post-Gazette, "Judge says residents of snowy locales should expect slippery hills," Zack Needles, April 30, 2012

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