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WILLIAMS v. SHULTZ (04/16/68)

decided: April 16, 1968.

WILLIAMS, APPELLANT,
v.
SHULTZ



Appeal from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster County, May T., 1964, No. 55, in case of Josephine Williams v. Charles H. Shultz and Dorothy L. Shultz.

COUNSEL

Daniel H. Shertzer, with him Shertzer & Danforth, for appellant.

William C. Storb, with him Stein, Storb and Mann, for appellees.

Bell, C. J., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien and Roberts, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Cohen. Mr. Justice Roberts concurs in the result. Mr. Chief Justice Bell dissents.

Author: Cohen

[ 429 Pa. Page 430]

This is an appeal from the lower court's refusal to strike off a compulsory non-suit in an action of trespass for injuries sustained as a result of a fall suffered by appellant on a patch of ice upon the sidewalk directly in front of appellees' home.

Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to appellant as we are bound to do the following facts appear: On the morning of February 7, 1963, appellant while on her way to work approached the sidewalk in front of appellees' home in the City of Lancaster. From all outward appearances, the sidewalk was completely free and clear of any ice or snow, but a portion thereof was covered by leaves. Appellant then proceeded to traverse the pavement and after stepping on the leaves slipped and fell on a patch of ice hidden thereunder.

The records of the Lancaster weather bureau indicate that the last snow fall occurred on January 26, 1963, eleven days prior to the accident and the last rainfall occurred on February 2, 1963, approximately

[ 429 Pa. Page 431]

    five days prior to the accident. Furthermore, the evidence supports the conclusion that the entire vicinity at the time of the accident was generally free of ice or snow except for some snow on the surrounding lawns.

At the conclusion of appellant's presentation, the lower court granted a compulsory non-suit on the basis that appellant failed to establish the existence of hills and ridges of ice upon the sidewalk as alleged in her complaint, and that the existence thereof is a prerequisite to the imposition of tort liability. Appellant's motion to strike off the non-suit was denied and this appeal followed.

Appellant first contends that the rule requiring proof of hills and ridges only applies in a situation where general icy and slippery conditions exist. In the absence of such conditions, appellant suggests that it is necessary to establish only the following four elements in order to recover for injuries sustained: (1) the existence of a dangerous accumulation of ice or snow; (2) the injuries were proximately caused by the accumulation; (3) the accumulation was of sufficient size to constitute an unreasonable obstruction to travel and (4) appellees had actual or constructive notice of the accumulation.

We must therefore determine initially whether or not the lower court erred in requiring proof of the existence of hills and ridges when the record discloses ...


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