Sidewalk Liability for Snow and Ice Continues to Evolve in NJ.

In the case of Gray v. Caldwell Wood Products, et al., New Jersey’s Appellate Division was faced with the question of whether a commercial owner of a vacant property has an obligation to remove snow and ice from the sidewalk.  The trial court, relying on precedent, had ruled in the negative and dismissed the claim.  The Appellate Division has now reinstated the claims.  In reaching its decision, the Court focused on the fact that the property was not vacant land (with nothing on it), but rather a commercial property that simply lacked tenants (because it was for sale) when the accident occurred.  Based on this fact, the Court was blunt – the property “had the capacity to generate income and, had, in fact, generated income in the recent past”.  Thus, the Court reasoned it was proper to make the lot’s owners responsible for sidewalk accidents.  In other words, if you make, can make, or have made money from your land in the past, you are responsible for the sidewalk.  Harsh words for commercial property owners in New Jersey.

For more information about this post, please contact Bob Cosgrove at rcosgrove@wcmlaw.com.