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Appellate Court Chips Away at Slip/Falls on Ice


In a decision released in the Second District Appellate Court on April 11, 2014, the court further restricted the ability to recover by injured plaintiffs who slip and fall on ice. The plaintiff in Ryan v. Glen Ellyn Raintree Condominium Association, 2014 Il App (2d) 130682, alleged in her complaint that she fell on ice on a walkway directly below an overhead awning and that the defendants were negligent by failing to correct a design flaw in the awning that allowed melted snow and rainwater to fall onto the walkway below and freeze; and that the defendants undertook to remove snow and ice but failed to clear the particular patch of ice on which she slipped. The appellate court affirmed the dismissal of the complaint.

The effect of this decision will be to make it more difficult to prove liability in the absence of proof of willful and wanton conduct on the part of the landowner is attempting to remove snow or ice. The state legislature and the appellate courts in Illinois have moved our state towards further restrictions on the attempts by plaintiffs who fall on snow or ice to recover for their injuries absent showing off some type of willful and wanton conduct on the part of the landowner. This is the standard that the state legislature set forth in the Snow and Ice Removal Act, cited by the court in Ryan. A landowner has immunity unless willful and wanton conduct can be proved in the owner’s attempts to remove snow or ice. This type of conduct is beyond simple negligence, and it is very difficult to prove.