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Smith v. University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey

2006 WL 38449 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2006) (Unpublished)

LANDOWNER’S LIABILITY; IMMUNITY—Public entities are protected from liability based on negligent snow removal but not if the public entity is acting as a landlord and the claim is made by its tenant.

A woman slipped and fell on ice as she exited the parking lot of a public entity’s facility. The ice had formed when melted snow in a pile created by the public entity’s employees as part of their snow-clearing efforts melted and refroze. The lower court held that the public entity was not liable by reason of well-settled law “that public entities are protected from liability based on negligent snow removal, under both common law” and the Tort Claims Act. Both the lower court and the Appellate Division rejected the injured woman’s reliance on Bligen v. Jersey City Hous. Auth., 131 N.J. 124 (1993), which she contended interpreted the immunity based on negligent snow removal as applicable “only to accidents which occur on streets or highways.” The Appellate Division held that “the size or configuration of the area where the accident occur[s] is not the determining factor. The applicability of the so-called Bligen exception is dependent upon the existence of a landlord-tenant relationship.”

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