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Where the sidewalk ends: residential property owners do not have absolute immunity when sidewalk injuries occur.

January 1, 2019
Cherry-Hernandez v. Ribeiro, No. A-2034-17, 2018 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 2654 (App. Div. Dec. 4, 2018) (per curiam)

The plaintiff brought suit for personal injuries after she fell on the driveway and/or sidewalk of the defendant’s property, which she claimed was made of uneven and cracked asphalt. The defendant premised his motion for summary judgment on a New Jersey Supreme Court case that held a property owner is not liable for a hazardous condition on an abutting sidewalk if he does not create or exacerbate the dangerous condition. The lower court concluded the defendant was exempt from liability due to his status as a residential property owner and that having an asphalt driveway that intersects with a concrete sidewalk is not negligent per se. However, the New Jersey Appellate Division reversed and remanded, noting that a “residential property owner’s immunity for injuries caused by sidewalks abutting his or her property is not absolute.” On appeal, the court further found there were outstanding factual issues as to whether the defendant created or exacerbated a hazardous condition. This case should caution defense counsel that a residential property owner is not absolutely immune from sidewalk liability without an evaluation of the facts.

 

Case Law Alerts, 1st Quarter, January 2019

Case Law Alerts is prepared by Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin to provide information on recent developments of interest to our readers. This publication is not intended to provide legal advice for a specific situation or to create an attorney-client relationship. Copyright © 2019 Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin, all rights reserved. This article may not be reprinted without the express written permission of our firm.

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