Slip And Fall Injury on Ice in An Area of a Driveway That Led from A Public Street to A Parking Lot



DOCKET NO. A-0947-19


JON GREENSTEIN, her spouse,

















Argued May 24, 2021 – Decided July 22, 2021

Submitted by New Jersey Personal Injury Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark

In this case plaintiff was injured when she slipped and fell on ice in an area of a driveway that led from a public street to a parking lot. Amazon leased a commercial property located at 2 Empire Boulevard in Moonachie. Amazon was responsible under the lease for snow and ice removal from the driveway and parking lot. Amazon contracted with Bergen Outdoors for snow and ice removal. Defendant Jeni LLC owned the premise located on the corner of Moonachie Road and Empire Boulevard. Defendant Samsung was a tenant in the Jeni building. Plaintiff worked at a company called 4over which is located at 4 Empire Boulevard. Employees had to park in the lot behind the premise. Two driveways provided access to the parking lot, one designated for entry and one designated for exit only. The exit driveway is located between the Jeni building and Amazon’s premise. The driveway is marked with do not enter signs on either side. Three rectangle concrete slabs compromise the space between the end of the driveway in the street with no markings on the slab to indicate a sidewalk boundary or to differentiate them from the remainder of the concrete driveway. Plaintiff fell on exit only driveway. Under the lease with Forsgate, Amazon was responsible for ice removal at 2 Empire Blvd and retained Bergen Outdoors to remove snow and ice. Per this contract, Bergen Outdoors would remove snow and ice from the properties parking lot driveways and walkways. Amazon directed their employees to perform perimeter walks of the property three or four times a day during the winter months according to Amazon’s Director of operations. Employees were instructed to examine the properties entrances, exits, and walkways including sidewalks. Amazon would notify Bergen Outdoors if any of the inspections did not come back positively.


During the weekend of January 23 and 24th, 2016, there was approximately 2 feet of snow that fell. Bergen Outdoors invoice reflected they plowed, shoveled, and salted lanes and driveways in this area. On January 25, Bergen Outdoors performed additional opening of walkways and streets as requested. On the morning of January 25, 2016, plaintiff followed her typical routine, she got off the bus on Moonachie which is near the intersection with Empire Boulevard. Plaintiff was crossing the road and walked through the parking lot behind Jeni’s property. According to the plaintiff she walked through the parking lot behind the building and turned onto the sidewalk parallel to Empire Boulevard as an everyday routine. She continued to walk on the sidewalk crossing over Amazons exit only driveway until she arrived at her office which is located next to Amazons building. On January 25, plaintiff could not go her normal route due to the snow and therefore plaintiff decided to walk in the gutter on Empire Boulevard until she got to her work premise. On January 26, plaintiff continued the same route as January 25. The snow was still not cleared off from the 25th and plaintiff had to walk in the gutter of the street. However, today a car was parked on the street and blocker her path. Plaintiff was forced to turn from the street to walk up the exit only driveway on Amazon’s property. She stated that although she saw some ice and snow in the driveway it appeared possible to her to walk through. Plaintiff slipped and lost her balance and fell.


After the close of discovery Amazon and Bergen Outdoors moved for summary judgment. Amazon argued they were entitled to judgment because the driveway apron was part of the public way, and they did not owe plaintiff a duty to clear the ice and snow. Bergen Outdoors argued Amazon never made a request for any snow removal services on the day of the fall and had no obligation under contract which required them to make inspections or provide ice watch services.

On May 2, 2019, the trial court issued in opinion granting summary judgment to defendants. The court found there’s no basis to impose liability on Amazon because as a commercial tenant Amazon do not have a duty to maintain the apron in question. The motion judging acknowledged there’s no case that talks about specific area and she declined to expand a commercial property owners sidewalk liability to something that is past the boundary of the sidewalk. The judge also stated she was not persuaded that there should be an obligation on the part of the tenant who has snow removal responsibilities for the commercial building to maintain the slow vehicle access in a condition that is pedestrian safe. The judge did not differentiate her findings between Amazon and Bergen Outdoors. Nor did she give any specific reason to Bergen Outdoors other than to say that Bergen’s response can’t be greater than that of Amazon. Plaintiff appealed the trial court’s decision.


The Appellate court reviews the grant of summary judgment which is de novo applying the same legal standard as the trial court. The appellate court must consider whether the competent evidential materials presented, when viewed in the late most favorable to the nonmoving party in consideration of the applicable evidentiary standard, are sufficient to permit a rational factfinder to resolve the alleged disputed issue in favor the nonmoving party. If there’s no genuine issue of material fact, the court must decide whether the trial court correctly interpreted the law.

On appeal the plaintiff argued the trial court erred in finding Amazon had no duty to maintain the driveway apron in a safe condition. Even though Amazon argued they are not responsible for this location of the slip and fall, they did say on testimony Amazon employees regularly inspected the perimeter of the property. Also, including the entirety of the driveway to ensure shoveling or salting was not needed. The removal of ice and snow did not stop at the delineation in the driveway between the concrete slabs and the street. The court found a slip and fall would be entirely foreseeable that pedestrians would step outside of the invisible confines of the sidewalk and onto the driveway apron. It is also foreseeable that individuals might use the sloped apron to walk from the street onto the sidewalk as plaintive did. The appellate court found Amazon owed plaintiff a duty to maintain the area in which she fell in a reasonable safe condition. The appellate court reversed the grant of summary judgment to Amazon and remanded to the trial court. It is the factfinder’s job to determine the reasonableness of Amazon’s actions and whether they breached their duty. The appellate court also found the trial court did not make any factual findings of legal conclusions in granting summary judgment to Bergen Outdoors. Bergen Outdoors presented arguments specific to its own actions and legal obligations and therefore the appellate court vacated the summary judgment order and remanded to the trial court for consideration of Bergen Outdoors arguments.

Here at Hark&Hark we have helped many people with their slip and fall cases and we are here to help you. If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident on private or public property, please give us a call. We will be determined to help you and get the compensation you need to recover.


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Jeffrey Hark is a New Jersey Civil and Criminal Lawyer.

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