Plaintiff Unable to Maintain Suit Against Public Entities for Personal Injuries Incurred from Ice Due to Leaking Rain Gutter

By Betsy G. Ramos, Esq.

Plaintiff Stephen Marquard sued New Jersey Transit and the Village of Ridgewood, alleging that he slipped and fell on ice that had formed on the pavement directly beneath a leaking rain gutter on the Ridgewood train station building. He claims the he sustained permanent injuries due to the fall. In Marquard v. Village of Ridgewood, 2015 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 2348 (App. Div. Sept. 30, 2015), the plaintiff’s case was dismissed by summary judgment and he filed an appeal.

The Appellate Division found that Ridgewood, not NJT had authority over the area of the plaintiff’s fall. Thus, NJT was entitled to summary judgment because it did not own or control the property where plaintiff fell. N.J.S.A. 59:4-2 applies only to injuries caused by a condition of its property

As for Ridgewood, the plaintiff was unable to establish that it had actual or constructive notice of the alleged dangerous condition. Although Ridgewood was aware of the roof leaking, it was unaware of gutters leaking outside of the building.  Thus, there was no actual notice.

The Appellate Division also found no constructive notice. The plaintiff presented no proof of the duration of the leaking gutter and the ice forming as a result. Plaintiff admitted that he used the train station daily and did not see this condition the day before the accident.  There were no reports of complaints or accidents to Ridgewood before his accident. Hence, the Appellate Division found that the plaintiff failed to show that Ridgewood had actual or constructive notice of the alleged dangerous condition a sufficient time prior to the injury to have taken measures to protect against the alleged leak.

Further, the Appellate Division found that Ridgewood was immune under the common law snow and ice removal immunity. The court found this immunity applied because ice was the cause of the accident.

Accordingly, the Appellate Division affirmed the summary judgment order dismissing this case as to both public entities.