Defense Wins: Natural Accumulation (again!)

Oh how do I love the natural accumulation doctrine – let me count the ways! Yep – summary judgment was granted on yet another case based on natural accumulation. This time in Kane County, Illinois.

In this case, the plaintiff sued the store who controlled the parking lot, the company contracted to handle snow/ice removal and the sub-contractor doing the work. The plaintiff testified the entire parking lot was covered in snow, slush and ice. He was aware of the dangerous conditions as he walked from his car to the store. At the check-out register the employees told him to be careful and offered for him to pull his car up but he declined. He put his items in his car, returned the cart to the storage area and on his way back to his car he fell.

The plaintiff claimed he stepped into an indentation that caused him to slip and fall. He did not report his fall, but instead drove home. The plaintiff returned on a later date and took photographs of the general area, but even using his own photographs, he could not identify specifically where he fell or if he was standing in any of the slight indentations in the pavement when he fell. He also admitted he was in a parking space so he could have been standing in a tire track in the snow.

I moved for summary judgment after the plaintiff’s deposition but the co-defendants did not join me. It was clear from the plaintiff’s testimony that he slipped and fell in a natural accumulation of snow and ice. Therefore, the plaintiff argued the store voluntarily undertook to remove the snow/ice so it had a duty to have the snow/ice removed. In response, we argued the snow vendor contract was not triggered on the day of the incident because 2 inches had not fall, which was proven by the evidence.

The court agreed the plaintiff fell in a natural accumulation of snow and agreed there was no duty for the snow vendor to remove the snow because it was under 2 inches of accumulation so summary judgment was granted. Within days of our ruling the co-defendants filed a motion for summary judgment and their motion was immediately granted as well. The plaintiff did not file an appeal.

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