top of page


Landowner Not Required To Remove Snow From Every Inch Of Property (PA)

June 23, 2023

Share to:

<p style="text-align: justify;">In January 2020, plaintiffs Janet and Richard Hinerman arrived at he airport to pick up their rental vehicle on the premises. Plaintiffs realized the car was in a separate parking lot, “located farther from the terminal building and separated by a grassy area from the lot on which they were standing.” <em><a href="">Hinerman</a> v. Westmoreland Cnty. Airport Auth</em>., 2023 WL 4002424, at *1 (Pa. Commw. Ct. June 15, 2023). Additionally, a driveway and paved walkway, covered by no snow, connected the two parking lots.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Rather than using the cleared walkway, Janet Hinerman crossed the snow-covered grass area when her “feet stumbled into a depression in the ground, several inches deep, which had been obscured by the snow cover.”</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The Hinermans brought a negligence action against the airport for damages Janet Hinerman sustained as a result of her fall. The Court affirmed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment, holding that the snow, rather than the depression in the ground, “due to its inherent tendency to cover uneven patches of ground or other tripping hazards, constituted the open and obvious danger.. Furthermore, the Court reasoned that “the Hinermans elected to forego the walkway and walk instead across an unimproved area that had not been intended for pedestrian use.”</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">This case stands for the proposition that defendants cannot be subject to premises liability when “the uncertainties inherent in walking on snow-covered ground are [open and] obvious.” Additionally, plaintiffs must be mindful that “[b]y their very nature, unimproved areas of land contain defects that may result in tripping or falling when being crossed on foot.”</p>
Thanks to Sarah Polacek for her contribution to this post. Please contact <a href="">Heather Aquino</a> with any questions.


bottom of page