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Summary Judgment in Slip and Fall Case

Robert N. Brown v. 1007 Second Street, Inc., an Illinois Corporation, and Shawn T. Crabel

Peoria County Case No. 07 L 5

This case involved a slip and fall on ice at the rear of a building owned by 1007 Second Street, Inc., in Chillicothe, Illinois. The Co-Defendant, Shawn T. Crabel, owned an adjoining building. Plaintiff alleged that the ice on which he slipped and fell came from water flowing from a black flexible hose connected to the downspout on Crabel’s property. This water allegedly flowed onto the property owned by 1007 Second Street, Inc., and then froze. At the time of the accident, Plaintiff was taking garbage to a dumpster at the rear of the building owned by 1007 Second Street, Inc. It was dark out, and there had been some snowing and sleeting earlier in the day.

Neither Plaintiff nor his wife, who was also present when the Plaintiff slipped and fell, were able to state the source of the ice on which Plaintiff fell. There were also no photographs showing the source of the ice. However, Plaintiff argued that previously the secretary for the owner of 1007 Second Street, Inc. had slipped on ice in the area of the dumpster which had formed as a result of water flowing from the black flexible hose. Plaintiff further argued that water flowing from the black flexible hose was in the general “path” of the area where Plaintiff slipped and fell.

Both Defendants argued that Plaintiff had failed to establish the proximate cause of his slip and fall since Plaintiff had failed to produce any evidence showing a “direct link” or “nexus” to the black flexible hose in question. The Defendants further argued that it would be pure speculation, guess or conjecture to conclude that the black flexible hose was the culprit, when it was equally probable that the source of the ice was a natural accumulation of precipitation from the sky. Judge Joe Vespa agreed with Defendants that Plaintiff had failed to offer any evidence to support the allegation that the ice that Plaintiff slipped and fell on was caused by water coming from the black flexible hose, and that to infer such would be speculation. Accordingly, the court granted summary judgment in favor of each Defendant.

 

Originally published in the Fall 2009 edition of Quinn Quarterly.