The winter storm that recently brought several feet of snow to the Northeast signaled that we are, indeed, in the middle of winter. Moreover, our nation’s favorite groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, saw his shadow on Groundhog Day this year, indicating that winter will be with us for six more weeks. As we move through the remainder of this snowy season, it is important for businesses to understand their legal obligations concerning snow removal and the defenses that are available to them in the event that an injury occurs on their premises. This alert summarizes the ongoing storm rules in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island, and analyzes property owners’ snow removal responsibilities as well as related premises liability issues under these states’ laws.
It is well settled in Connecticut that, in the absence of unusual circumstances, in fulfilling their duty to invitees on their property, property owners may wait a reasonable time after the conclusion of a storm to perform ice and snow removal from outside walkways and steps. Kraus v. Newton, 211 Conn. 191, 197-198 (1989). A property owner’s duty to perform reasonable snow and ice removal of outside walkways does not arise until after a reasonable period of time has passed after a storm ends. Umsteadt v. G.R. Realty, 123 Conn. App. 73, 83 (2010). The ongoing storm doctrine does not apply, however, if the defective condition arises from preexisting ice or snow, and not from the ongoing storm. Whether the alleged defective condition was caused by preexisting ice or snow and whether a storm has concluded are both questions of fact that may be decided by a jury. Kraus at 197-198.
Reprinted courtesy of Angeline Ioannou, Lewis Brisbois, Kenneth Walton, Lewis Brisbois, Colin Hackett, Lewis Brisbois, Gregory Katz, Lewis Brisbois and Lauren Motola-Davis, Lewis Brisbois
Ms. Ioannou may be contacted at Angeline.Ioannou@lewisbrisbois.com
Mr. Walton may be contacted at Ken.Walton@lewisbrisbois.com
Mr. Hackett may be contacted at Colin.Hackett@lewisbrisbois.com
Mr. Katz may be contacted at Greg.Katz@lewisbrisbois.com
Ms. Motola-Davis may be contacted at Lauren.MotolaDavis@lewisbrisbois.com