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The mere presence of ice does not establish negligence on the part of the entity responsible for maintaining the property. Rather, a plaintiff must present evidence from which it may be inferred that the ice on which he slipped was present on the sidewalk for a long enough period of time before the accident that the party responsible for the sidewalk would have had time to discover and remedy the dangerous condition.
Plaintiff Robert Lenti alleged that at about 7:45 a.m. on Monday, January 12, 2004, while walking from the parking lot toward the school in which he works, he slipped on a patch of ice on the sidewalk, approximately 8 to 10 inches long and 2 inches wide, which, like the sidewalk and parking lot, was covered with a thin layer of recently fallen snow. Lenti sued Initial Cleaning Services, Inc. seeking damages for the injuries he suffered. The Supreme Court, New York County (New York), denied Initial Cleaning Services’ motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint. Initial Cleaning Services appealed.
Was the mere presence of ice establish negligence on the part of Initial Cleaning Services?
The court reversed the judgment and found that Initial Cleaning Services established that it was not the property owner and that it neither created nor had actual or constructive notice of the ice. In response, Lenti failed to submit evidentiary materials establishing a fact question on these points. Lenti was required to present evidence from which it may have been inferred that the ice was present for a long enough period of time that Initial Cleaning Services would have had time to discover and remedy the dangerous condition. Speculation that the ice had remained there from the snowfall of the week before did not suffice. Actual or constructive notice was not established merely by Lenti’s assertion that he had observed isolated patches of ice around the property three days before the accident; nor was it established by the evidence of a snowfall one week earlier. The submitted climatological data for the date of the accident supported the conclusion that the ice could have formed in the nighttime hours before the early-morning accident.