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Posted in Premises Liability on March 7, 2018   |  by Gary Burger

Watch Out for Black Ice!

The rain, falling temperatures, and icy conditions that St. Louis has been experiencing has inspired me to discuss slip and fall law in Missouri. I had two clients ask us to navigate the slip and fall law jungle. Though Melissa and Donna did not know each other, they shared a story. They were both going grocery shopping, and while they walked through a parking lot to get there they slipped and fell on ‘black ice.’

What is even crazier is that after they fell at the respective stores, the managers attempting to help them fell too! It was a very dangerous situation.

Neither store owned or maintained the parking lots exclusively reserved for their use, which is becoming more and more common. The company that owned the lot hired someone else to plow and salt, which is very common. This does not let the owner off the hook as many may think -- Under Missouri Law, a landowner must keep their property free from dangerous conditions. MAI 22.03 (7th Ed.). Under the law, the landowner only could know of a dangerous condition - not should. So, the owner is liable.

Further, Missouri courts have long held that in parking lot cases, the store using the lot is the one with a non-delegable duty to its invitees to maintain a reasonably safe parking lot. Cannon v. S. Kresge, 116 S.W.2d 559 (1938); Demko v. H & H Inv. Co., 527 S.W.2d 382 (Mo. App., 1975); Groce v. Kansas City Spirit, Inc., 925 S.W.2d 880, 885 (Mo. App. W.D., 1996); Turcol v. Shoney’s Enterprises, Inc., 640 S.W.2d 503 (Mo. App. E.D. 1982); O’Connell v. Roper Elec. Co., Inc. 498 S.W.2d 847 (Mo. App. 1973).

Although a landowner does not need to remedy a hazard that largely affects all property in an area, they must address a dangerous condition – such as snow or ice – on their property that they knew about or reasonably could have known about. Harris v. Neihous, 857 S.W. 2d 222 (Mo. App. 1993); see also Gorman v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 19 S.W.3d 725, 732 (Mo. App. 2000)

Happily, we worked through the complex law and got settlements for our Melissa and Donna. Watch this video to see some of our attorneys have a conversation about slip and fall law in Missouri.