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Snow Fall
by Ron Davis

An injury that a shopper suffered when she slipped and fell on ice at an Ohio shopping center was no one’s fault but her own. So ruled Ohio’s courts in a lawsuit resulting from the shopper’s injury.

The shopping center is Fairwood Center is Cleveland, and the slip-and-fall incident occurred in midwinter during daylight hours in one of the tenant’s parking area. The shopper said she slipped and fell as a result of a “cracked and raised” portion of pavement that was coated with unplowed snow and ice.

When questioned about the accident, she said that the raised portion of the pavement caused her to stub her toe and that she couldn’t regain her balance because of the slippery conditions. Her lawsuit blamed both the shopping center’s owner and the tenant in whose parking lot she fell.

Ohio’s courts have consistently ruled that an owner or occupier of land ordinarily owes no duty to remove the natural accumulations of ice and snow from sidewalks. Nor is there a duty to warn of the danger associated with natural accumulations of ice and snow.

Moreover, the injured woman was a longtime resident of Cleveland and was obviously familiar with the snow and ice that is a part of winters in Ohio. Finally, she admitted that she was familiar with Fairwood Center, having shopped there on numerous occasions.

In ruling in favor of the shopping center and the tenant, an Ohio appellate court explained, “The Ohio Supreme Court has held that no liability exists for minor imperfections in the surface of a parking area, because those slight irregularities are reasonably to be anticipated in any traveled surface.... Also, the woman testified that she believed she would have regained her balance had it not been for the snow and ice, which supports an inference that the raised pavement was nothing more than a minor imperfection.”

Concluded the judges, “Based on the record, the prevailing condition which the shopper attributed to her fall was a natural accumulation of snow and ice. As a lifetime Cleveland resident, she could appreciate the dangers inherent in wintertime life in Northern Ohio and should have taken steps to protect herself.” (Collins v. Glassman, 2006 WL 1851124 [Ohio App. 8 Dist.])

Decision: July 2006
Published: July 2006



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