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Residential property owners can be liable for injuries sustained on icy sidewalks if ice resulted from negligent maintenance

Murphy-Hylton v. Liberman Management Services, Inc., 2016 IL 120394.

The Snow and Ice Removal Act (745 ILCS 75/0.01 et seq.) does not immunize property owners from claims of liability for injuries allegedly caused by icy sidewalks due to an otherwise negligent failure to maintain the premises or premise defects. However, the Act does extend immunity to residential property owners from liability for injuries allegedly caused by icy sidewalks due to negligent snow and ice removal efforts.

Plaintiff slipped on an icy sidewalk outside her condominium and sustained personal injuries. She brought a negligence suit against the condominium association and the condominium management company alleging that the negligent maintenance of the premises created an unnatural accumulation of ice, causing her to fall.

Plaintiff alleged that defendants were negligent by failing to properly direct the drainage of water and melted snow, failing to repair defective sidewalks, and failing to repair downspouts to prevent an unnatural accumulation of ice on the sidewalk. Additionally, plaintiff alleged that defendants failed to comply with various local building construction and maintenance codes.

Plaintiff's complaint did not contain any allegations of negligence relating to snow or ice removal efforts. Because plaintiff's theory of negligence pertained to construction and maintenance of the premises - and not snow removal efforts - the Illinois Supreme Court held the Snow and Ice Removal Act does not provide an affirmative defense. Landowners owe a duty of reasonable care to prevent unnatural accumulations of ice and snow on their premises where they have actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition.

Brian Iversen