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TERRY WENTZ v. PENNSWOOD APARTMENTS (12/05/86)

filed: December 5, 1986.

TERRY WENTZ, APPELLANT,
v.
PENNSWOOD APARTMENTS, APPELLEE



Appeal from Judgment of the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division, of Dauphin County, No. 256 S 1980.

COUNSEL

Thomas B. Rutter, Andrew E. DiPiero, Jr., Philadelphia, for appellant.

Richard H. Wix, Harrisburg, for appellee.

Wieand, Beck and Watkins, JJ.

Author: Wieand

[ 359 Pa. Super. Page 3]

The principal issue in this appeal from a judgment entered on a defense verdict is whether the Pennsylvania "hills and ridges" doctrine applies to private walks which are covered with ice or snow, or only to public sidewalks. As a secondary issue, appellant requests that we review the trial court's jury instructions pertaining to the choice of ways.

On January 16, 1978, Terry Wentz, an employee of United Parcel Service, used a private walk to move from the street, where he had parked his truck, to the Pennswood Apartment Complex, Harrisburg, where he intended to deliver a package. Although the walkway was covered with ice and snow, he was able to gain entrance to the apartment without incident. He was unable to deliver the package, however, and was forced to return to his truck with it. While

[ 359 Pa. Super. Page 4]

    retracing his path over the privately maintained sidewalk, he slipped and fell with resulting injury. His action against the corporate owner of the apartment complex was tried before a jury. The jury rejected his claim and returned a verdict in favor of the defendant. Post-trial motions were denied, and judgment was entered on the verdict. Wentz appealed.

He argues, on appeal, that the trial court erred by refusing to charge the jury on the Pennsylvania "hills and ridges" doctrine and by instructing the jury that the plaintiff could not recover if, knowing of the potential danger in crossing an ice or snow covered sidewalk, he nevertheless chose to walk across it when a safer route was available to him.

It is axiomatic that a possessor of land owes a duty to protect his invitees from foreseeable harm. Carrender v. Fitterer, 503 Pa. 178, 185, 469 A.2d 120, 123 (1983). An owner or occupier of land is subject to liability for harm which befalls his invitees due to a condition on his land if he

(a) knows or by the exercise of reasonable care would discover the condition, and should realize that it involves an unreasonable risk of harm to such invitee, and

(b) should expect that they will not discover or realize the danger, or will fail to protect ...


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