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New York Mall Owner Was Not Entitled to Summary Judgment on Storm-in-Progress Defense to Premises Liability Claim

In the state of New York, landowners and business operators owe certain duties to those who come upon their property for a business purpose, such as a shopper going to a mall to make a purchase.

A Syracuse premises liability lawsuit can result when a business patron is injured because a property owner did not act in a reasonably prudent manner and this resulted in physical harm to an invitee.

If the person who is injured on business property is able to prove that his or her injuries were due to the defendant’s negligence, he or she may be entitled to substantial financial compensation. However, it is important to note that there are deadlines for filing a claim in such cases, and claims not filed in accordance with the time set by law are usually deemed to have been waived.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiff was a woman who was allegedly injured as a result of a slip and fall accident in the parking lot of a shopping mall owned and operated by the defendant. According to the plaintiff, there was approximately five inches of snow in the parking lot at the time of her fall. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that it was entitled to judgment as a matter of law on the basis that there was a storm in progress at the time of the plaintiff’s fall.

The Supreme Court of Genesee County denied the defendant’s motion, and the defendant appealed.

Decision of the Court

The Supreme Court of the State of New York Appellate Division, Fourth Judicial Department, affirmed the lower court’s ruling. In so holding, the court noted that the defendant had submitted deposition testimony from the plaintiff stating that it was snowing at 2:30 pm when she slipped and fell on approximately 5 inches of snow in the defendant’s parking lot. However, the defendant also submitted testimony from the plaintiff’s husband; according to his deposition, it had stopped snowing at some point in the two-hour period prior to the plaintiff’s accident. Perhaps most notably, the defendant had submitted an affidavit from an expert meteorologist (along with the data upon which the expert based his opinion), which the court deemed “insufficient to establish” that it was snowing after 12:54 p.m. at the location at which the accident occurred.

Taken together, the appellate court was of the opinion that the defendant had failed to meet its burden of proving that it was entitled to judgment as a matter of law with regard to it’s “storm-in-progress” defense. Under New York law, a party is only entitled to summary judgment when there are no genuine issues of material fact and, taking the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, the party seeking summary judgment is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

Talk to a Syracuse Injury Attorney

When a property owner does not take reasonable steps to insure the safety of the public, serious, life-threatening, and even fatal accidents can occur. If you or a loved one has been hurt on someone else’s property due to negligence of a business operator or landowner, you need to talk to a lawyer about asserting a claim for money damages to compensate you for your medical expenses, lost earnings, and pain and suffering. At DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP, our team of experienced Syracuse premises liability attorneys is here to help you seek justice. Call us at 315-479-9000 to schedule a free case evaluation.

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