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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:A winter storm brought accumulations of ice to Wichita Falls. Andre Gagne went to Sears in the Sikes Senter Mall, slipped on ice on the sidewalk near the Sears entrance and suffered a fractured hip. The mall was managed by Coyote Management, L.P., which had contracted with Xencom Facility Management, LLC to maintain the common areas. Xencom employees had been spreading salt on the mall sidewalks but had not reached the western entrance where Sears was located. Gagne and his wife filed suit against Sears, Coyote, and Xencom alleging they had a duty to exercise reasonable care to protect Gagne from the ice which had accumulated on the mall sidewalk. Sears, Coyote, and Xencom filed summary judgment motions contending that they owed no duty to Gagne, because naturally accumulating ice does not pose an unreasonable risk of harm to invitees. The court granted their summary judgment motions and rendered a take-nothing judgment in their favor. HOLDING:Affirmed. A premises owner owes a duty to an invitee “to exercise reasonable care to protect against danger from a condition on the land that creates an unreasonable risk of harm of which the owner or occupier knew or by the exercise of reasonable care would discover.” The Supreme Court recently concluded that “naturally accumulating mud” on a sidewalk near a business entrance does not pose an unreasonable risk of harm. M.O. Dental Lab v. Rape, 139 S.W.3d 671 (Tex. 2004) (per curiam). The Eastland Court of Appeals recently came to the same conclusion in a case involving a plaintiff who slipped and fell on naturally accumulated ice in a parking lot. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. v. Surratt, 102 S.W.3d 437, 441-42 (Tex. App. � Eastland 2003, pet. denied). The Eastland Court recognized that states generally follow either the “Massachusetts Rule” � finding no duty on the part of the defendant to remove ice and snow which naturally accumulated � or the “Connecticut Rule” � finding that there may be liability for injuries due to an accumulation of ice or snow provided the landowner knew, or should have known, of the danger and failed to exercise reasonable care to prevent injury. The Eastland court concluded that a natural accumulation of frozen precipitation on a parking lot does not constitute an unreasonably dangerous condition. The court concludes that the same rule applies to a sidewalk at the entrance to a business. The primary distinction to be drawn between the mud at issue in that case and the ice at issue here is that invitees in Texas will not encounter natural conditions involving ordinary ice regularly. In every other respect however, naturally accumulating mud and naturally accumulating ice pose the same risk of harm. The natural accumulation of ice on a sidewalk near the entrance of a business does not pose an unreasonable risk of harm to invitees, the court holds. OPINION:Reyna, J.; before Gray, C.J., Vance and Reyna, J.J. Gray, C.J., concurs only in the holding, as expressed in the last paragraph of the opinion, and the judgment. DISSENT:Vance, J. “I would analyze hazards from accumulations of ice or snow upon a sidewalk, entryway, or other area intended for pedestrian traffic under the general rules governing a landlord’s or possessor’s duty to invitees.”

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