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walkway ice snow Credit: kolt_duo/Shutterstock.com

The denial of a petition for certification by the New Jersey Supreme Court recently generated some heat and light. The issue presented in Dixon v. H.C. Equities (C382 September Term 2019, Feb. 13, 2020) was whether the owner of a commercial building owes a duty to those who come onto the premises to take measures to render the sidewalks leading to its parking lot safe during a continuing snowfall. Janet Dixon, a worker in the commercial building broke her hip on the sidewalk heading to the parking lot during a snow event. In that setting, the Appellate Division answered the duty question in the negative, relying on Supreme Court opinions which it apparently believed to be precedential on the duty issue. Thus the panel held that a commercial landowner owes no duty to its tenants or the public to take steps to remove snow and ice from its sidewalks until a reasonable time after the snow stops. That holding affirmed the trial judge’s grant of summary judgment to defendant based on an absence of duty.

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