Search Site
Menu
Condo Association Not Liable for Icy Sidewalk Fall

Icy Sidewalks Find an Audience with the Appellate Division

Winter is in full effect. With sidewalks covered in snow, falls on ice are occurring throughout the state. Community associations concerned about their liability regarding these falls can refer to the recent Appellate Division decision in Cuiyun Qian v. Toll Bros.

The plaintiff resided with her husband in a single-family home at The Villas at Cranbury Brook, an adult residential community in Plainsboro, New Jersey. In the early morning hours of December 21, 2008, freezing rain began falling causing ice to accumulate on the sidewalks. That morning, approximately one hour after the precipitation ended, Plaintiff and her husband decided to walk to a food market. On the way back home, Plaintiff slipped and fell on an icy patch of a sidewalk within the residential community, suffering injuries as a result.

According to the Association’s bylaws, the board was responsible for maintaining the common areas of the community, including clearing streets and sidewalks of snow or ice. To that end, the Association contracted with Landscape Maintenance Service (LMS) to perform snow and ice removal services. According to the contract, LMS agreed to keep all common sidewalks “reasonably clear from ice” when there had been two or more inches of snow accumulation; when there was less than two inches the Association was required to request additional snow or ice removal services from LMS. On the day of Plaintiff’s fall, the accumulation of freezing rain was less than two inches. As such, LMS did not provide any remediation services that morning, and the Association did not request that LMS perform any such remediation. Nor were the sidewalks salted.

Community Associations, Fundamentally Residential

In the seminal case of Luchejko v. City of Hoboken, 207 N.J.191 (2011) the State Supreme Court rejected the assertion that a homeowners association was more like a commercial property owner in its responsibilities to the public and in its ability to spread the costs of maintaining a public sidewalk. In doing so, the Court focused on the “residential use” of the property, and reconfirmed the “commercial/residential dichotomy.” The Court held that prior judicial analyses had made “a fundamental choice not to impose sidewalk liability on homeowners.”

In Plaintiff’s case, she argued that the holding of Luchejko did not apply here because she was injured while walking on a sidewalk located within the residential community rather than on a sidewalk abutting a public roadway, as was the case in Luchejko. The Court rejected this argument, holding that the interior sidewalks were publicly-used sidewalks just as the abutting sidewalk was in Luchejko. They functioned like the public sidewalks of any residential development.

Next, Plaintiffs emphasized the fact that the Association was responsible by the Association’s bylaws for maintaining all common areas of the property and were required to obtain liability insurance to protect against claims arising out of the public’s use of the common areas. The Court rejected this argument as well. As authorized by N.J.S.A. 2A:62A-13, the Association’s bylaws provided that only willful, wanton or grossly negligent conduct by the Association can result in its liability to an injured homeowner. The Court found nothing in this case that evidenced willful, wanton or grossly negligent conduct by the Association.

Legal Representation for Community Associations

Here, at Lieberman Blecher & Sinkevich our attorneys are skilled at handling all manner of issues facing community associations, including residential condominium associations. We represent community associations in many matters, including serving as general counsel for matters such as corporate formation, liability, and finance/collections matters. If your association is in need of assistance with legal issues, please don’t hesitate to call our office to discuss scheduling a consultation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Our Attorneys

Recent Twitter Posts

  • The Murphy Administration plans to spend $200 million on wind port. https://t.co/Se09U5ZHvy
    3 hours ago
  • NJDEP aims to simplify permitting process. https://t.co/UTm92DtrAC
    1 day ago
  • U.S. Supreme Court will hear PennEast Pipeline appeal of New Jersey eminent domain dispute. https://t.co/AqqvTw1QD2
    4 weeks ago
  • Fishing to be allowed in future wind farm off the coast of Atlantic City. https://t.co/x8vlsXFtcW
    1 month ago

Recent Blog Posts

Recent Appellate decision emphasizes the consequences of failing to perform due diligence

In December 2020, the NJ Appellate Division published a decision emphasizing the importance for purchasers of property use their “due diligence” period to learn as much as possible about the
Read More
Recent Appellate decision emphasizes the consequences of failing to perform due diligence

New Jersey has ambitious goals for emission reductions

New Jersey’s Global Warming Response Act (“GWRA”) calls for New Jersey to decrease its greenhouse gas emissions by 80% from their 2006 levels by 2050. In January 2020, Governor Murphy
Read More
New Jersey has ambitious goals for emission reductions

San Diego Receives Federal Funding to Fight Mexican Sewage

San Diego has just received substantial federal funding from the EPA to address a chronic problem: raw sewage coming from Tijuana Mexico. That sewage has been migrating over the border
Read More
San Diego Receives Federal Funding to Fight Mexican Sewage

New Jersey Supreme Court rules for NJ Transit in insurance claim for damages due to Superstorm Sandy

A New Jersey Supreme Court opinion issued on January 27, 2021 affirmed an Appellate Division decision in favor of NJ Transit over its insurers. In 2012, when Superstorm Sandy hit
Read More
New Jersey Supreme Court rules for NJ Transit in insurance claim for damages due to Superstorm Sandy

In the media

  • Gulf Coast Town Center facing foreclosure

    Naples Daily News, September 16, 2015

    Wells Fargo filed a lawsuit Sept. 8 against an affiliate of CBL & Associates, the owners of the decadeold, 1.2 million-square-foot mall in south Fort Myers for a $190.9 million unpaid loan. The center has 94 stores on 204 acres, with such anchors as Super Target, Belk, Best Buy, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Marshalls and Costco...

    Read More
  • Town liable for private company's leaking underground tanks, court rules

    NJ.com Jul 26, 2017

    CRANFORD -- A couple that owned a businesses in town and became sick from leaking underground tanks owned by an adjacent business can sue the township for damages because the tanks were partially ...

    Read More
  • Dark Waters: How a Class Action Catapulted NJ to Forefront of 'Forever Chemicals' Battle

    NJ Law Journal Jan 09, 2020

    As property owners become increasingly aware of PFAS contamination, and as individuals exposed to PFAS learn of the health risks associated with exposure, liability will likely affect entire supply chains.

    Read More
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
Contact Our Firm

Quick Contact Form