Appellate court allows slip-and-fall negligence case to proceed

May 7, 2018

A negligence case against a Lake County senior living facility will continue after the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed summary judgment, finding a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the facility knew or reasonably should have known about icy conditions that led to an elderly woman’s fall.

As a resident of the Golden Manor senior living facility in Hammond, Frances Dehoyos frequently encountered problems during the winter of 2013 with the apartment management failing to remove snow and ice from the sidewalks. On the morning of Dec. 29, 2013, Dehoyos was exiting the apartment complex when she slipped on ice and stuck her head, leading to recurring headaches and neck pain, as well as an ankle injury.

Golden Manor’s official policy was for its maintenance staff to arrive at 8 a.m. to inspect for snow and ice, and to contract with Meier Snow Plow Company to clear snow and apply salt, and to perform ice melting applications when directed. On the day in question, Meier came to the facility at 11 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. and applied two bags of salt to the premises. Dehoyos had attempted to leave her apartment sometime between 10 and 11 a.m.

Dehoyos sued Golden Manor nearly two years after her fall, alleging negligence arising from icy conditions. Golden Manor moved for summary judgment, which the Lake Superior Court granted after finding “no dispute of material fact ‘that Golden Manor knew that a condition existed that created an unreasonable danger to (Dehoyos), or should have discovered the condition and its danger.”

The woman appealed in Frances Dehoyos v. Golden Manor Apartments, 45A05-1711-CT-2721, arguing there was “ample evidence” that Golden Manor knew or should have known of the ice and had failed to take steps to protect her. The Indiana Court of Appeals agreed, with Senior Judge Carr Darden writing in a Monday opinion that the case presented genuine disputes of material facts.

“It is undisputed that cold winter conditions existed at the time of the incident and that snow had been present at Golden Manor for several days,” Darden wrote for the unanimous appellate panel. “Further, Dehoyos testified in her deposition that it was cold outside and had been for several days. Given this evidence, and Golden Manor’s failure to point to any evidence of drastic weather changes on the morning of December 29, one could reasonably infer that the ice formed prior to Dehoyos’ slip and fall on the morning of December 29.”

The case was remanded for further proceedings.


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