Slippery When Wet: Court Dismisses Sidewalk Slip/Fall Case

slip-fallIn Bock v. LouMarita Realty Corp., 2013 NY Slip Op 51396(U) (decided August 26, 2013), a slip-and-fall case, the trial court granted defendants’ summary judgment motion.

Plaintiff alleged that he fell on the sidewalk outside defendant Pasticceria Bruno’s bakery in Greenwich Village after stepping on “an extremely slippery piece of rock or concrete off a very much coarser piece of pavement or surface.” When plaintiff fell it was raining heavily.

The court outlined the applicable law:

The fact that a sidewalk is slippery when wet with rain gives no cause of action to a person who has suffered an accident on the sidewalk, absent evidence that the sidewalk is in any way defective. The mere fact that a sidewalk is wet from the rain is not a dangerous condition as would impose liability upon a defendant in a slip and fall action.

To impose liability upon a defendant in a slip and fall action, there must be evidence tending to show the existence of a dangerous or defective condition and that the defendants either created the condition or had actual or constructive knowledge of it. As such summary judgment has been granted to a defendant dismissing the Slip and Fall claim where the accident occurred in a terrace exposed to the elements which was wet due to an earlier rain storm; where the accident occurred on a staircase leading to the front entrance of a building and at the time of the accident the staircase was wet from rain; where a painted sidewalk was slippery when wet from rain but prior to the rain the paint had thoroughly dried and was somewhat worn but there was no evidence the paint was in any way defective, or contained improper materials or had been improperly applied; where plaintiff slipped on driveway apron wet from rain and there was no evidence that the apron was improperly constructed or designed.

Here, plaintiff failed to satisfy this standard, entitling defendants to summary judgment and dismissal of plaintiff’s complaint:

Plaintiff has failed to show the existence of a defective or dangerous condition on the sidewalk and that defendants either created or had knowledge of the condition. In sum Plaintiff’s expert affidavit merely states in conclusory fashion that the granite portion of the sidewalk is inherently dangerous because it is slippery and slick when wet. His opinion is essentially that plaintiff fell because the sidewalk was too slippery. Plaintiff offers no evidence of the reason for his fall other than the granite portion of the sidewalk being slippery due to rain. Plaintiff claims that the granite portion was smooth due to wear and tear and this condition caused it to be excessively slippery and slick when wet.

Neither the circumstance that the granite portion of the sidewalk might be inherently slippery by reason of its smoothness or that it might become more slippery when wet, is indicative of negligence on the part of the defendants. Nor is the fact that the portion of the sidewalk where plaintiff fell is more slippery than other portions of the sidewalk indicative of negligence or sufficient to preclude the granting of summary judgment.

Plaintiff slipped and fell on the sidewalk in front of defendants’ premises while it was raining heavily. The accident did not occur as a result of a dangerous or defective condition on the sidewalk but due to the slippery condition of the sidewalk when wet with rain. In essence plaintiff’s claim is that he fell because the sidewalk was slippery by reason of its smoothness, under these circumstances liability cannot be imposed on the defendants, nor is an issue of fact raised precluding the granting of summary judgment.

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