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Claim: After spending the night at a relative’s apartment, a visitor exited the building on an early winter morning and slipped and fell on black ice in the parking lot. As a result of the fall, the man suffered several fractures that required surgery. He filed a claim against the housing authority that manages the apartment building, alleging that it was negligent in keeping the parking lot clear of ice. In response, HAI Group filed a motion arguing that the housing authority was not responsible for protecting the plaintiff from an ‘open and obvious’ natural accumulation of ice.

Details: The plaintiff argued that the black ice was not an ‘open and obvious’ natural ice accumulation. While the defendant did not refute this claim, it argued that, because the black ice was naturally occurring, it did not have a duty to warn about or remove the potential hazard.

Outcome: The court acknowledged the axiom that this case occurred in the wintertime in a state where ice and snow are commonplace. Furthermore, the judge denied the plaintiff’s claim, citing state law that says landlords do not have a duty to warn people of, or remove, naturally accumulating ice or snow on a property. The plaintiff could not prove that this particular patch of ice was caused by something unnatural or was due to the landlord’s active negligence of a contractual obligation. Thus, the housing authority prevailed in this case.

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