Changed Ice and Snow Removal Laws: Property Owners Beware!

November 17, 2011

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For 200 years, the laws Massachusetts supported the position that a property owner was not liable for any injuries caused by a natural, (or untouched,) accumulation of snow or ice. However, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court drastically changed this liability law in the Commonwealth with the issuance of a July 26, 2010 decision.

In Papadopoulos v. Target, Papadopoulos slipped and fell on a patch of ice while walking in Target’s parking lot. After a snow storm, a plow had cleared the parking lot there and piled the snow on a median. The ice in question had either fallen from the snow pile or formed from snow that melted and ran off it. The trial court ruled that the ice was natural accumulation.

Under then-existing Massachusetts case law, property owners had no obligation to remove or warn people of natural accumulations of snow and ice. Therefore, the trial court concluded that the Papadopoulos could not prevail on his negligence claims. Papadopoulos appealed, and the appeals court affirmed that trial court’s decision in favor of Target.

On further appellate review, the Supreme Judicial Court rejected the long-standing distinction between natural and unnatural accumulations of snow and ice. ...

You may read more at the link below.

by: Philip R. Smith

Westfield Evening News
November 17, 2011

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