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Appellate Division Again Rules that Residential Landowners Not Liable for Injury Caused by Fall on Abutting Public Sidewalk

By on March 11, 2016 in Uncategorized with 0 Comments

Plaintiff Sunnie Corry was walking with her husband and daughter, as well as her grandchild, who was in a stroller, on the sidewalk abutting the defendants’ home. She tripped and fell over a raised and severely broken sidewalk and, as a result, suffered a severe rotator cuff injury. In Corry v. Barbieri, 2016 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 255  (App. Div. Feb. 5, 2016), the plaintiff urged the Appellate Division to abandon the “unenlightened” standard that insulates residential landowners from liability for injuries caused by abutting sidewalks.

The trial court granted summary judgment to the defendants based upon the current state of the law. On appeal, the plaintiff argued that the Appellate Division should expand the law to find residential landowners liable for a fall on an adjoining public sidewalk.

The Appellate Division noted that the law has been evolving since Stewart v. 104 Wallace Street, Inc., 87 N.J. 146 (1981), in which the Supreme Court altered the “no liability” rule by holding that commercial landowners would be responsible for maintaining in reasonably good condition the sidewalks abutting their property. However, the Court limited its holding to owners of commercial property.

More recently, in Luchejko v. City of Hoboken, 207 N.J. 191 (2011), the Court adhered to Stewart’s residential v. commercial distinction by holding that a condominium association and management company could not be held liable for injuries caused by a sidewalk abutting a residential condominium complex.

Thus, the Appellate Division noted that while the common law has evolved since Stewart, the Court’s recent opinions showed its continued adherence to a residential landowner’s immunity from liability for injuries caused by public sidewalks abutting their property. Only the Supreme Court can decide if it is time for a change. Hence, it affirmed the trial court’s order, dismissing the case.


About the Author

About the Author:

Ms. Ramos is an Executive Committee Member and Co-Chair of the Litigation Department at Capehart Scatchard, P.A. located in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. She is an experienced litigator with over 30 years experience handling diverse matters. Practice areas include tort defense, business litigation, estate litigation, tort claims and civil rights defense, construction litigation, insurance coverage, employment litigation, shareholder disputes, and general litigation.

For the years 2020 and 2021, Ms. Ramos was selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© in the practice area of Litigation - Insurance. The attorneys on this list are selected based upon the consensus opinion of leading lawyers about the professional abilities of their colleagues within the same geographical area and legal practice area. A complete description of The Best Lawyers in America© methodology can be viewed via their website at: https://www.bestlawyers.com/methodology.

In 2021, Capehart Scatchard and Ms. Ramos received the “Best Law Firm” ranking in the area of Litigation – Insurance (Metro, Tier 3) published by U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers®. Law firms included on the list are recognized for professional excellence with consistently impressive ratings from clients and peers. To be eligible for a ranking, a firm must have at least one attorney who has been included in the current edition of Best Lawyers in America, which recognizes the top five percent of practicing lawyers in the United States. Betsy Ramos (Litigation – Insurance) was recognized for this prestigious award in the 2021 edition. For a description of the “Best Law Firm” selection methodology please visit: https://bestlawfirms.usnews.com/methodology.aspx.

“Best Law Firms” is published by Best Lawyers in partnership with U.S. News & World Report. For a description of the selection methodology please visit: https://bestlawfirms.usnews.com/methodology.aspx.

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