New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

FERNANDEZ v. New York, #2000-015-509, Claim No. 95974


A landowner is not required to take any action to correct a dangerous icy or snowy condition until the cessation of the storm.

Case Information

Claimant short name:
Footnote (claimant name) :

Footnote (defendant name) :

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
Motion number(s):

Cross-motion number(s):

Claimant's attorney:
Juan Fernandez, Pro Se
Defendant's attorney:
Honorable Eliot Spitzer, Attorney General
By: Timothy P. Mulvey, EsquireAssistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
April 27, 2000
Saratoga Springs

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)

This is a claim by an inmate appearing pro se to recover for personal injuries allegedly sustained on January 13, 1997 at Oneida Correctional Facility when he slipped upon ice located on a stairwell of the library building causing him to fall and break his right hand.

Claimant testified that at the time he was proceeding to the library it was snowing and as he approached Building 9 he observed that the library stairs were covered with snow. He proceeded up the stairs and slipped and fell injuring his right hand. Claimant stated that he observed no warning signs around the stairs stating that they were slippery and there was no sand on the steps. Upon cross-examination claimant conceded that it was snowing heavily on the day of the incident and that the stairwell in question was covered by a roof with hand railings on both sides.

Defendant introduced into evidence Exhibit A, a climatological data report from the National Climatic Data Center for New York State for the period of January of 1997, which disclosed that the temperature was below freezing on the day of the incident and for the two days preceding that date. The Exhibit also disclosed that 5.6 inches of snow were recorded in the Utica area on January 13, 1997. Maintenance Supervisor Joseph Frazier testified that he had been the Maintenance Supervisor at Oneida Correctional Facility for five years prior to the time of trial and the practice with respect to snow removal was to have crews salt and sand as necessary due to weather conditions. It was snowing on January 13, 1997 and his crews shoveled the steps of the library and salted and sanded as necessary. He received no complaints concerning the stairwell upon which the incident occurred at Building 9 on January 13, 1997.

At the close of claimant's proof defense counsel moved to dismiss the claim for failure to establish a prima facie case in that, among other grounds, there was no evidence that the State had actual or constructive notice of the icy condition prior to the incident and the storm was still in progress. That motion will now be addressed.

"It is well settled that a landowner has a reasonable time in which to address a storm-related snow or ice condition on its property subsequent to the cessation of the storm and is not required to take any corrective actions while a storm is still in progress" (
Reynolds v Sead Dev. Group, 257 AD2d 940). To establish a prima facie case of negligence against a governmental entity for injuries sustained due to a fall upon ice the injured party must establish "actual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition and a reasonably sufficient time from the end of the storm which created the condition to remedy it" (Urena v New York City Tr. Auth., 248 AD2d 377, 378). Absent such proof a dismissal motion must be granted (Chapman v City of New York, ____ AD2d ____, 702 NYS2d 355). Here, by claimant's own testimony the storm was still in progress at the time that he slipped upon the steps. He has submitted no evidence that the condition upon which he slipped was caused by weather conditions preexisting the ongoing storm. Consequently, he has failed to establish a prima facie case and the dismissal motion must be granted.
The Clerk is directed to enter a judgment in accord with this decision.

April 27, 2000
Saratoga Springs, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims