Premises Liability: Court Holds Defendant Store Lessee Had No Duty to Remove Snow and Ice from Sidewalk Adjacent to Store


April 9, 2018

Carmona v. Sunrise Check Cashing SVCS #6, et al. (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Nassau Co.)

Deborah A. Summers, Esq. and Lori B. Lewis, Esq.

 

In Carmona, the plaintiff allegedly fell on snow and ice on a sidewalk adjacent to a check-cashing store in Glen Cove, New York.  According to the plaintiff, the sidewalk was covered with two feet of snow and contained embedded footprints covered with ice.  Plaintiff sued the owner and lessee of the store to recover damages for injuries allegedly sustained as a result of the fall.

 

The lessee moved for summary judgment, arguing a lessee of property abutting a public sidewalk is under no duty to remove ice and snow that naturally accumulates upon the sidewalk unless a statute or ordinance specifically imposes tort liability for failure to do so.  The motion pointed out that while the plaintiff alleged that the defendants violated the Glen Cove City Code, neither the cited provision nor any other provision of the Code actually imposes tort liability on occupants for injuries caused by a failure to remove snow and ice, and that therefore liability must remain with the municipality unless the owner or lessee created a dangerous condition or made special use of the sidewalk (which, the lessee argued, it did not).

 

The Supreme Court, Nassau County (Hon. Anna R. Anzalone, J.S.C.) agreed that in the absence of a statute imposing tort liability for failure to maintain or keep the sidewalk free from snow or ice, the lessee was under no duty to remove snow or ice from the sidewalk or to apply salt or sand.  On the eve of trial, the court dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint and all of the co-defendants’ cross-claims against the lessee.