SW Legal studies in Business

Mere Slipperiness Due to Ice Does Not Impose Duty of Care on Public Agencies
Description

Minnesota appeals court held that mere slipperiness, such as from ice, does not create a duty of care to government agencies with respect to persons injured from slipping on the ice. The only duty is to prevent obstructions or other dangerous conditions that may impede travel.

Topic Real and Personal Property
Key Words

Premises Liability; Negligence; Fall; Slipperiness; Public Property

C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts

Rodenwald, working for Auto Glass, was replacing two windshields in vehicles at a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) facility. When Rodenwald got out of his van at the DNR facility, he took two steps and fell on ice that he had not noticed. He sued DNR for negligently allowing ice to accumulate in its driveway. DNR moved to dismiss the case, contending that it did not violate its duty regarding accumulation of snow and ice. The trial court agreed and granted summary judgment for DNR. Rodenwald appealed.

Decision

Affirmed. Under the mere-slipperiness rule, a plaintiff who slips on ice on a sidewalk does not establish a cause of action in a negligence suit against a city if nothing but the slipperiness causes the accident. Rather, there must be such accumulation of ice as to constitute an obstruction to travel or irregularities of height of the ice that would be likely to cause pedestrians to fall. This rule, which applies to municipal sidewalks, also applied to claims against the state and so applies to state driveways, parking areas, and such.

Citation Rodenwald v. State, ---N.W.2d--- (2010 WL 155549, Ct. App., Minn., 2010)

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