All Accidents Are Not The Same

Contributed by Jonathan S. McAnney

McAnney, JonTucker Arensberg was granted Summary Judgment in favor of a retailer in a slip-and-fall suit.

In the case of Dwight J. Miller and Dawn Miller v. Lowe’s Home Centers, Inc., et al. (No. 11-11378), Mr. Miller, a truck driver, was delivering freight to the Lowe’s retail store in Cranberry, Pennsylvania.  As he  unloaded his freight at the loading dock area at the rear of the store, a box fell out of the open trailer doors onto the ground.  Mr. Miller decided  to walk to the front of the store to notify Lowe’s employees that the box of freight had fallen.

As he walked to the front of the store through the parking lot, he stepped on a patch of ice and fell to the ground injuring himself.  He sued Lowe’s.

Mr. Miller testified that he knew that there were spots of ice in the vicinity of his fall.  He had no problems with visibility or lighting.  He admitted to seeing some ice and acknowledged that he was trying to avoid the ice.  He believed that his rubber soled work boots would give him sufficient traction to avoid any dangers from walking over ice.

Tucker Arensberg filed a Motion for Summary Judgment for Lowe’s and argued that the record showed Mr. Miller knowingly chose to walk on a patch of ice that could have been avoided.  (The law with regard to an accumulation of ice and snow is that a possessor of land is not liable for harm caused to a customer on the premises by any condition on the property if the danger is known or obvious to that person.  Restatement of Torts, §343.)

In an Order entered on January 14, 2013, the Court agreed with Lowe’s and held that the Plaintiff was unable to impose liability on Lowe’s relative to the claims set forth in the Plaintiffs’ Complaint.  The entry of Summary Judgment dismissed this case as to Lowe’s.