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Property Owner Gets By With a Little Help From His Friends (PA)

September 1, 2016

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On July 13, 2016, a Luzerne County jury found for the defendant in a sidewalk slip-and-fall on ice case due to the ability of the defense to present solid witness testimony from non-party witnesses.
In <em>Donald Pachucki v. James Farrell and Michael Farrell</em>, the plaintiff allegedly fell on a patch of ice on sidewalk in front of residential rental property.  A municipal worker, he had been in the course of his employment collecting debris when he fell.  He alleged that the property owner had failed to clear the sidewalk and produced photographs he claimed had been taken hours after the incident to prove his claim.  Pachucki sued the property owner/landlord of the property where he fell on the theory that they were negligent in maintaining the property.
At trial, the defendants were firm that the sidewalk was clear on the day of Pachucki’s fall.  The property owner had an agreement with one of the tenants to remove snow and ice on the property.  That tenant testified that he and his eight children regularly shoveled and applied salt and that they had done so that day prior to the incident.  Another neighbor boosted this testimony, describing the efforts the owner took driving by the property up to three times a day to verify that it was properly maintained.  He described the defendants as meticulous in their maintenance of the property and confirmed that the sidewalk was certainly clear on the day of Pachucki’s fall.
The defendants questioned the plaintiff's photographs suggesting that snow on the sidewalk could have accumulated due to activity of children walking from a neighboring school.
The jury was persuaded by the testimonials and found in favor of the defendants.
Thanks to Melanie Brother for her contribution.
For more information contact Denise Fontana Ricci at <a href=""></a>.


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