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City of Philadelphia Responsible For Parking Lot Snow Removal (PA)

June 23, 2017

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<p style="text-align: justify;">In <a href="http://www.pacourts.us/assets/opinions/Commonwealth/out/1979CD16_5-25-17.pdf?cb=1"><em>Stuski v. Philadelphia Authority for Industry Development</em></a>, the plaintiff worked for the City of Philadelphia police department’s traffic division, which leased offices in the Navy Yard in Philadelphia. The traffic division also leased an adjacent fenced parking lot for the exclusive use of traffic division employees. The property was owned by PAID and managed by CBRE.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">On the morning of the accident, the plaintiff parked in the leased parking lot, stepped out of his car after arriving for work, and slipped and fell on snow or ice. The defendants moved for summary judgment, and argued that they did not owe the plaintiff a duty of care due to the language of the lease. The lease between PAID and the City of Philadelphia provided that it was the City's responsibility, as tenant, to remove snow and ice from the parking lot leased for the traffic division’s exclusive use. Based on this language, the trial court granted the motion for summary judgment.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">On appeal, the City argued that PAID and CBRE owed the plaintiff a duty of care. The Court noted that witnesses testified that although there was a sign in the parking lot instructing to call CBRE for snow and ice removal -- and it was the City of Philadelphia’s administrative policy to call CBRE for snow and ice removal -- the City of Philadelphia always ended up performing the snow and ice removal for the parking lot itself.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">In affirming the trial court’s granting of summary judgment, the Court held that a landlord  generally has responsibility for snow and ice removal for premises leased to multiple tenants. However, where a tenant has exclusive possession and control over leased premises, the responsibility for snow and ice removal falls on the tenant. As such, the Court found that in addition to the language of the lease and the City of Philadelphia’s course of conduct in removing snow and ice, the City of Philadelphia had exclusive possession and control over the parking lot. Therefore, summary judgment was affirmed.</p>
Thanks to Alexandra Perry for her contribution to this post and please write to <a href="mailto: mbono@wcmlaw.com">Mike Bono</a> for more information.

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