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Cajkovich v. DiGirolamo

A-1989-03T2 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2005) (Unpublished)

SIDEWALKS; SHADE TREES—Where a homeowner has no control over the abutting sidewalks or the shade trees along the sidewalk and didn’t build or repair the sidewalk, it is not liable for pedestrian injuries arising out of sidewalk defects or because the shade from the tress hid a defect.

A pedestrian tripped over a raised block in a public sidewalk that abutted the property of a homeowner. He sued the homeowner under the theory that the shadow cast by the branches of a shade tree next to the homeowner’s property kept the pedestrian from seeing the raised block in the sidewalk.

The lower court properly dismissed the case because both the tree and sidewalk were owned by the municipality – leaving the private homeowner with no legitimate control over either – and there was no proof that the homeowner installed the sidewalk or made any repairs or maintained the tree or sidewalk.

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