Will a Weather Expert Persuade the Court in a Winter Slip & Fall Case?

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Plaintiff appealed from the trial court’s grant of summary judgment for his landlord, and dismissal with prejudice of his complaint alleging negligence in failing to clear ice on a sidewalk on which Plaintiff slipped and fell at the apartment complex.  

Judges Francis J. Vernoia and Scott J. Moynihan wrote in their per curiam opinion that Plaintiff alleged that he slipped and fell on an icy walkway in the apartment complex on January 18, 2015 at approximately 1:00 p.m. and suffered a fractured radius in his left arm. The timing of the injury and when the precipitation started and stopped were critical in the case. Expert testimony was required as to the weather conditions. 

Plaintiff acknowledged that, according to the Hourly Weather Table for the day in question found in the defendant’s weather expert report, freezing rain began to fall around 7AM. 

“Further, according to defendant’s expert, the temperature remained in the mid-twenties, well below freezing, when the freezing rain began to develop.” Plaintiff added, “[i]t is undisputed that the ice rain stopped falling prior to plaintiff’s fall.  

The Court noted that Defendant’s expert report indicated that the temperatures began to rise above freezing starting at 11AM—two hours before Plaintiff’s” fall, and “more than fifteen hours after” the National Weather Service issued a freezing rain advisory. 

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