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Print Page A Roadway is “A Roadway”
by Ron Davis

A woman who tripped and fell while attempting to cross a street to reach an Illinois shopping center has failed in her efforts to blame the center’s owners for her resulting injury.

The shopping center is Grand Plaza Mall in suburban Chicago, and the woman’s injury occurred in August during daylight hours. She had parked her car in a parking area that was across a common roadway from the mall. And while crossing the roadway, she stepped into a hole and fell, sustaining injuries to her right shoulder.

She eventually sued the owners of Grand Plaza Mall and one of its tenant stores, seeking $50,000 in damages.

In explaining the reason for her lawsuit, she alleged that the center’s owners “undertook the upkeep and maintenance” of the roadways and parking area located in front to the mall stores. Therefore, she explained, the mall owners should have known of the “dangerous” pothole in the roadway.

She added that the center’s owners owed a duty to maintain the roadway and provide necessary warnings to pedestrians of any dangerous condition. The roadway, she explained, was, after all, the means of ingress and egress to the stores in the mall.

The center’s owners admitted that they owned, operated, managed and maintained the parking for the mall. But they specifically denied ownership of the common roadway and parking area located on the adjoining property.

In fact, they added, nothing indicates which parking area or lot their permit and contract covered (and the mall’s owners said they were never asked about either one). Finally, the mall’s owners pointed out that the woman’s fall simply did not occur on property that they owned or maintained.

On appeal, however, the injured woman’s lawyers argued that the mall’s owners “undertook the upkeep and maintenance” of the roadway and parking area located in front of the mall stores. Therefore, they added, they should have known of the dangerous pothole in the roadway and should have warned pedestrians of that dangerous condition. That’s because, they charged, the roadway was the means of ingress and egress to the stores in the mall from the adjacent parking area.

To refute that charge, the center’s owners said, “There is nothing in the record to indicate which parking lot or area any permit and contract covered, and they were never asked about either one [during the trial]”

The Appellate Court of Illinois ruled, “There is nothing in the record to indicate the area in question was anything other than a roadway. The fact that people also walk across it to reach the mall does not make it a walkway, any more than the fact that people walking across a parking lot makes it anything other than a parking lot.

(Caracci v. Patel, IllApp. 1 Dist., 2015, [N.E, 3d, 2015 IL App (1st) 1954680 (Ill.App. 1 Dist.)

Decision: May 2015
Published: June 2015

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