Illinois Appellate Court Upholds Summary Judgment in Retailer’s Favor in Melted Ice Slip and Fall Lawsuit

Gold shopping cartsGoing up against big corporations and businesses can be intimidating, especially if you are entitled to compensation for painful injuries that you sustained as a result of their negligence. At Therman Law Offices, our Chicago premises liability lawyers represent slip and fall accident victims and aren’t afraid to provide the tenacious and assertive legal representation that a powerful defendant may require.

Slip and fall cases are common in a bustling state like Illinois. A recent Illinois appellate court opinion considered the liability of a large national retailer for a customer’s slip and fall injuries. In her complaint, the plaintiff alleged that she slipped and fell on a pool of liquid that had accumulated on the retail establishment’s floor. The plaintiff asserted a claim for basic negligence and a claim based on the Illinois Premises Liability Act. The defendant denied the allegations in the complaint and asserted an affirmative defense, contending that it could not be held liable for the plaintiff’s injuries because she slipped on what it described as “a natural accumulation of ice, snow or rainwater.”

The litigation proceeded to discovery, and the record included evidence suggesting that it was snowing on the day the incident occurred, that the shopping carts stored outside were covered in ice and snow, and that the defendant’s employees brought these carts into the store, where the water and melting ice accumulated.

The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, alleging that it could not be held liable for injuries sustained as a result of a natural accumulation of water and that even assuming the plaintiff slipped on some other liquid, no evidence in the record indicated that the retailer had actual or constructive notice of the liquid before the fall occurred. The lower court granted the motion for summary judgment, concluding that the plaintiff slipped on a natural accumulation of water and that the retailer could not be held liable.

On appeal, the plaintiff alleged that the lower court’s order granting the defendant’s motion for summary judgment was improper because material facts existed regarding the nature of the substance upon which she slipped and whether the retailer had followed its safety procedures to avoid danger to customers when ice and snow were present. The plaintiff also alleged that the accumulation of water was not a natural occurrence but instead an unnatural result of the defendant’s employees pushing snowy and icy carts into the store.

The appellate court referenced the natural accumulation rule, which states that a property owner is under no duty to remove natural accumulations of ice, snow, or water from his or her premises. This is true even if the property owner has actual knowledge that the accumulation has resulted in a dangerous condition, and the landowner is under no duty to warn others about the dangerous condition. To prevail despite this rule, the plaintiff must allege facts to show that there was an unnatural accumulation or that the defendant aggravated the natural condition. The allegations supporting this showing must be more than speculation.

Applied to the facts of the present case, the plaintiff failed to show that the accumulation was unnatural or that the defendant aggravated the condition beyond speculation. The appellate court accordingly affirmed the lower court’s grant of summary judgment in the defendant’s favor.

If you have suffered injuries due to someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. At Therman Law Offices, our diligent team of premises liability lawyers has represented accident victims and their families throughout the region, which means we know just what you are experiencing during this unexpected and stressful time. We offer a free consultation to discuss your potential legal case, so call us now at 1-773-545-8849 or contact us online to get started.

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