When The Snow and Your Client Falls

Here is the latest premises case involving freshly fallen snow.

In Clifford v. Crye-Lieke Commercial, Inc., No. M2005-00376-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. App. M.S. July 11, 2006), Judge Koch and his colleagues affirmed a grant of summary judgment in favor of the defendant in a slip and fall case involving freshly fallen snow.

The holding:

"In light of the nature of the snowstorm in this case, we have concluded that it was reasonably  foreseeable that most persons would avoid venturing out to conduct routine business transactions.   Thus, it would have been reasonable for Crye-Leike to assume that its tenants’ customers would have stayed at home and avoided unnecessary travel during the snowstorm. Therefore, Crye-Leike did not act unreasonably when it decided not to begin its efforts to remove the accumulated snow or to survey all of the properties it owned or managed to determine whether the snowstorm had created  conditions that would be abnormally dangerous to the public. The difficulty and expense of these  remedial measures outweighed the possibility that a customer, like Mr. Clifford, who decided to  brave the winter weather might injure himself by slipping on the side of a wheelchair ramp concealed under the fallen snow. Accordingly, under the facts of this case, the trial court correctly concluded  that Crye-Leike did not have a duty to warn persons doing business at the State Farm office of the  presence of the wheelchair ramp that was concealed by the snow."

Read this opinion before you take one of these cases.  If you accept representation in a slip and fall case that arose during a snow or ice storm please call your trust officer and make sure that you can receive an extraordinary distribution from grandma’s trust – you are going to need the money after you lose.  If you are not a beneficiary of a trust I suggest you politely advise the client to seek help from someone else.