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Arocho v. United States of America

05-5063 (U.S. Dist. Ct. D. N.J. 2006) (Unpublished)

SIDEWALKS; MUNICIPALITIES—Unless there is a landlord-tenant relationship, a municipality is immune from liability for snow-removal activities.

A pedestrian was injured when she slipped and fell on snow and ice that had not been removed from a municipal walkway. The municipality argued that the complaint should have been dismissed because a municipality is “entitled to common-law snow-removal immunity.” The Court agreed.

By their nature, “snow removal activities leave behind ‘dangerous conditions.’ No matter how effective an entity’s snow-removal activities may be, a multitude of claims could be filed after every snow storm.” For that reason, “public entities are entitled to common-law immunity from liability for snow-removal activities.” Further, “[t]his immunity was not affected by the enactment of the New Jersey Torts Claim Act.” And, “[s]alting and sanding fall under the umbrella of snow-removal activities, [and] [a] public entity is protected by immunity unless the dangerous condition is caused by a known hazard other than solely the weather, ..., or there is a landlord-tenant relationship between the parties.” In this case, there was no allegation “that the dangerous condition was caused by any hazard other than the weather.” There was no allegation of a landlord-tenant relationship. Therefore, the Court agreed that the municipality was entitled to immunity from liability for the pedestrian’s injuries.

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