Superior Court holds Radio Shack not liable for slip and fall

By Jim Boyle | Jun 30, 2014

An Erie County Radio Shack is not liable for injuries sustained by a pedestrian who slipped

on a patch of black ice adjacent to the store, affirmed the Pennsylvania Superior Court earlier this month.

According to the order, plaintiff William Cotter did not provide enough proof that the store was responsible for the care and maintenance of the sidewalk. The decision, by default, also denied Radio Shack's claim that the property owners, Millcreek Realty Associates, should be liable for any damages from the suit. Since no damages would be awarded, the store's complaint was moot, the ruling said.

"Because the trial court entered summary judgment in favor of Radio Shack as to Cotter’s
negligence claim, Radio Shack’s cause of action for breach of contract fails as a matter of law," wrote Superior Court Judge John Musmanno.

The original complaint filed by Cotter in April 2011 alleged that he had slipped on the ice while exiting the Radio Shack on Feb. 3, 2009. However, an amended complaint filed a month later stated that Cotter had not entered the store when he fell. Regardless, Cotter claimed that Radio Shack held a responsibility to maintain the premises for business invitees.

"I walked toward Radio Shack; I got on the sidewalk," said Cotter in a deposition to the trial court. "I was coming to their door. I slipped, caught myself with my right arm so I wouldn’t crack my head open, and I got up, went in the store and told the manager that I had fallen and that he should do something about the black ice."

The Erie Court of Common Pleas ruled that Cotter's claim lacked merit, stating that he only proved that he had fallen, not that Radio Shack was liable for the property conditions. In fact, the court said, Millcreek and the company contracted to remove snow and ice, Thompson Enterprises, were responsible for maintaining the grounds.

However, the trial court ruled and the Superior Court affirmed that Cotter's claims against the landlord and contractor were derivative of the Radio Shack suit. Since the original complaint had been denied, the subsequent filings were also denied.

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