In a major win for the Illinois “fall-down” defense industry, in Claimsone v Professional Property Management, et al. 2011 IL App (2d) 101115, No. 2-10-1115, (September 12, 2011), Plaintiff Lynn Brome slipped and fell on a rear apartment staircase covered with snow and ice from the previous night’s snowfall while working as a housekeeper for employer, Tri-County Opportunities.
She eventually filed a workers’ compensation claim. Claimsone, her employer’s comp carrier, later filed a subro action against the property’s apartment management company, the apartment complex as well and the apartment resident who had hired Brome, alleging they breached their duty of reasonable care by failing to remove the snow and ice from the staircase, as the defendants
· In the past had voluntarily cleared the staircase from ice and snow and;
· The agreement between management company and the complex’s caretaker provided for snow removal.
The Second Appellate District, addressing the issue of whether defendant’s breached their duty of care upon their voluntary assumption of a duty to maintain the premises free and clear of snow at the time, held even though Defendant’s had not done so early in the morning of the accident, Brome had twice observed the condition, which was obvious to a reasonable person, and she could thus not justifiably rely on defendant’s prior pattern of shoveling.
As for the agreement between the apartment’s management company and caretaker, the Court held Defendants owed no duty to clear snow and ice and had no contractual agreement under its terms, which specified only “walks” and “sidewalks” but not staircases, and the courts require express language to impose such a duty.
This article was researched and written by one of our fall-down defense experts, Patrick Cremin who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.