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Court Finds Defendants Did Not Exacerbate Hazard Though Engaged In Snow Removal During Storm

August 12, 2022

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<p style="text-align: justify;">In <em><a href="">Keeney v. Hempstead Turnpike, LLC, et al.,</a></em> the plaintiff appealed from an order granting summary judgment to defendant/second third-party plaintiff, Stop and Shop Supermarket Company, LLC (“Stop &amp; Shop”), to defendant/third-party plaintiff, Hempstead Turnpike, LLC (“Hempstead Turnpike”), the second third-party defendant, S &amp; S Levittown, LLC (“S &amp; S”), and, on a separate motion, granted summary judgment to third-party defendant, East Coast Lot &amp; Pavement Maintenance Corporation (“EC Lot &amp; Pavement”) dismissing the complaint as against the defendant/third-party plaintiff, Hempstead Turnpike.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Plaintiff slipped and fell on snow on a sidewalk in front of a store operated by Defendant Stop &amp; Shop. The plaintiff sued Stop &amp; Shop and the owner of the property, defendant Hempstead Turnpike, which in turn commenced a third-party action against EC Lot &amp; Pavement, a snow removal contractor. Stop &amp; Shop commenced a second third-party action against S &amp; S, the holder of the ground lease for the property.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The Court examined the facts under the now well-settled storm-in-progress rule citing that a property owner, tenant in possession, or, where relevant, a snow removal contractor is not liable for accidents caused by snow or ice that accumulates during a storm until sufficient time since a storm’s cessation has passed to allow the opportunity to mitigate any hazards caused by the storm. The Court noted, however, that if a landowner or tenant in possession decides to remove snow during a snowstorm, then, in such an instance, the landowner and tenant in possession must act with reasonable care not to create a hazardous condition or make worse a hazardous condition created by the storm.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Though the plaintiff in the underlying action claimed the sidewalk looked like someone removed snow earlier in the day with parts of it having melted spots, did not have no salt or sand on it, had about ½ an inch of snow where the plaintiff slipped, and the parking lot was salted and sanded, the defendants here successfully established that their efforts to remove snow and ice from the sidewalk during the storm did not create a hazardous condition or exacerbate the natural hazard caused by the storm.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">This case serves as a reminder of the potential liability exposure of owners and tenants in possession along with those they contract with, such as a snow removal contractor, when attempting to ameliorate a snowy condition while snow is still falling from the sky, as well as, the factual depth and development necessary for the defense of such cases.</p>
Should you have any questions, contact <a href="">John Diffley</a>.

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