HARRISBURG – The Superior Court of Pennsylvania has reversed a lower court’s order in a constable's slip and fall case in Westmoreland County.
In an April 4 decision, the court reversed a lower court’s order granting summary judgment in favor of property owner Robin Slicker and her tenant, Daniel Diess.
In February 2014, Robert Staley accompanied his son Edward – both of whom were constables – to serve a warrant at a property owned by Robin Slicker. As Staley approached a gate providing access to the property, he slipped and fell on snow-covered ice.
Staley and his wife, Joanne, filed a lawsuit against Slicker and Diess for the injuries he allegedly suffered in the fall. The Staleys accused her of being negligent for “allowing snow and ice to accumulate on her property in hills and ridges.” They also accused her of “failing to assure that the property was properly maintained.”
In the appeal, the court was asked to consider whether the trial court erred when it granted summary judgment based on its “finding that Staley fell in an alley that Slicker had no duty to maintain.”
The superior court noted that Slicker acknowledged ownership in her motion for summary judgment, alleging that the Staleys “failed to show that Slicker, the property owner, had actual or constructive notice of the existence of the alleged condition.”
The court found that the trial court granted summary judgment based on facts unsupported in the record and reversed the order.
The court was also asked to consider whether Staley should be precluded “from recovering for injuries sustained in a fall on an uneven accumulation because the underlying surface is not paved.”
In its opinion, the court thought that question would be best answered by a jury.
“Whether the area outside the gate of Slicker’s property is an area where a pedestrian would be expected to travel, and whether it was a ‘walkway, sidewalk, or other ingress/egress from the property,’ presents a question of fact for the jury to determine,” the court said.