Landlord / Tenant Slip and Fall On Ice, Who is Responsible for Removal?

Underhill v. Borough of Caldwell

Docket No.: A-1800-18T4

Decided and Approved for Publication May 21, 2020

Submitted by New Jersey Personal Injury Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark.

In a recent decision approved for publication, the Appellate Division considered the issue of a slip and fall on ice and whether the landlord of the property had a non-delegable duty to remove the snow and ice when the tenant had sole responsibility of removing snow and ice under the lease.

In Underhill, the case arises from a pedestrian’s fall on black ice in a parking lot leased by private owners to the Borough of Caldwell. The injured pedestrian and his wife sued both the Borough and the private owners, alleging negligent failure to maintain the parking lot and the internal driveway connected to it in a safe condition.

The written lease between the owners and the Borough expressly delegates to the Borough the responsibility to clear the premises of ice and snow.

The Borough and the property owners moved for summary judgment. The trial court granted the Borough’s motion, finding no basis for its liability. It found plaintiffs had failed to establish actual or constructive notice of a dangerous condition.

The court also granted summary judgment to the property owners in a separate ruling apparently predicated on the absence of notice. Plaintiffs now appeal that ruling, arguing the property owners had a non-delegable duty under tort law to keep the premises safe from accumulated ice and snow, or alternatively, that the language of the lease does not delegate that duty with sufficient clarity.

The Appellate Division found that following the recent Supreme Court decision Shields v. Ramslee Motors, 240 N.J. 479 (2020), the property owners were entitled to summary judgment because the lease explicitly delegated to the Borough of Caldwell the exclusive responsibility to remove snow and ice from the premises.

If you have been injured as a result of negligence on a part of someone else, such as a slip and fall in snow and ice on a property you do not own, you need to make sure you contact a personal injury attorney with knowledge of ownership and control in relationship to liability.  Failing to consider these issues could result in your case be dismissed permanently.  Do not hesitate to contact Hark & Hark today to discuss your personal injury.

For personal injury matters, you pay nothing upfront, and our fee is paid as a percentage of your recovery. At Hark & Hark, we represent clients in all towns in New Jersey, including Borough of Clayton, Township of Deptford, East Greenwich Township, Township of Elk, Township of Franklin, Borough of Glassboro, Township of Greenwich, Township of Harrison, Township of Logan, Township of Mantua, Township of Monroe, Borough of National Park, Borough of Newfield, Borough of Paulsboro, Borough of Pitman, Township of South Harrison, Borough of Swedesboro, Township of Washington, Borough of Wenonah, Township of West Deptford, Borough of Westville, City of Woodbury, Borough of Woodbury Heights, and Township of Woolwich


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Criminal Civil Lawyer

Jeffrey Hark is a New Jersey Civil and Criminal Lawyer.

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