Storm “In Progress” Twelve Hours After Snow Stopped (NY)

The “storm in progress” rule provides that a property owner is not responsible for accidents occurring as a result of snow and ice accumulation on its premises until an “adequate period of time has passed following the cessation of the storm to allow the owner an opportunity to ameliorate the hazards caused by the storm.”  In Wei Wen Xie v Ye Jiang Yong, the Courts will provided an example of what constitutes  an “adequate period of time.”

Snow had been falling on February 10, 2010, during which the defendant homeowner shoveled his sidewalk between 5:00 and 8:00 p.m. The snow finally stopped around midnight that evening.  Thereafter, the plaintiff fell on ice in front of the residence at about 8:15 a.m. the following morning.  The homeowner moved for summary judgment and the trial court granted the motion.

In affirming the decision, the Second Department held that a “reasonably sufficient time had not elapsed after the cessation of the storm to permit him to remove any additional snow or ice that had accumulated after his initial snow removal efforts.”  Specifically, the time of 8:15 a.m., when plaintiff fell, was not sufficient time for the owner to remove the snow or ice, as the snow had stopped during the overnight hours.  The Court also confirmed that the owner’s prior snow removal efforts did not exacerbate the icy conditions, as the owner salted the area after his shoveling, and the plaintiff’s unsworn expert report failed to raise a triable issue of fact.

We do note, however, such circumstances may be fact specific, as this particular case was in regards to snow removal on a residential homeowner’s premises and the standard could be different in the case of a commercial property owner.

Thanks to Jung Lee for his contribution to this post.