According to the National Weather Service, the average snow fall in Framingham for the month of February is 9.1”. The snow precipitation that we’ve encountered in the past few days has left approximately 10”-12” in towns throughout the metro west area. This one storm has left accumulations that are more than the average total for the entire month of February. While individuals plow their driveways, shovel their steps, and make areas of travel safe for guests and household members, a hidden danger lurks in areas most individuals are unable to remedy with ease- icicles hanging from rooftops. While many may laugh at the idea of an icicle posing a danger, the length and width of icicles falling from great heights transform these frozen wonders into frozen missiles capable of exacting injury, and in some cases, even death.
In Gosselin v. Colonial Shoping Center, Inc., a Plaintiff was injured while walking to get a cup of coffee from the Defendant’s store. As she approached the entrance she heard a sound of thunder from up above on the roof of the establishment. Before she knew it, she was hit unexpectedly by snow and icicles that fell from the roof. The Plaintiff brought suit against the store owner due her significant injuries that necessitated the intervention of an orthopedic doctor, claiming that the store owner failed to exercise a duty of reasonable care by failing to guard against the falling snow and ice. The lower court judge found in favor of the Defendant store owner. On appeal, the court held that there was no evidence suggesting any breach of the duty of reasonable care on the part of the Defendant. Additionally, the court held that the Plaintiff failed to present any expert testimony suggesting a design defect in either the roof or the awning where the snow fell. Finally, the court held that the Plaintiff presented no evidence that the Defendant was aware of the defect. Continue reading →