An eighty year old woman enters a funeral home to attend the funeral of a friend. As she makes her way to her destination, snow continues to fall as it had been doing for the past hour or two. After making her way up the stairs to the funeral home and through the entryway door, she wipes her feet on the carpet just inside the entrance of the funeral home. After taking one step off the carpet she falls in a 3′ x 4′ area of dirty water on a marble floor and suffers injuries. She brings suit against the owner of the funeral home claiming negligence, and specifically, a breach of a duty of care owed to her and other patrons by failing to recognize the danger of water that had been accumulating on a marble floor. After extensive litigation in the matter, a jury returned a verdict for the injured Plaintiff. However, on appeal, the decision was reversed and the court held that, due to the transitory nature of the premises, and the lack of evidence that the floor became peculiarly slippery when wet, the court could not find the landlord breached his duty to the Plaintiff.
Does the “transitory nature” of premises effect a person from recovering due to a fall of snow, water, or ice at the entranceway of a premises?
The court in Wexler v. Stanetsky Memorial Chapel of Brookline, Inc. (referred to above) held that it does prevent an individual from recovering money from a landlord or shop owner. The court held that the transitory conditions of the premises, and its use in normal wet weather, could not have been prevented. Additionally, “there was no evidence to indicate that the water on the floor was more than the, “results from the tramping of many feet in such a place . . . under the conditions of weather then existing.’” Continue reading →