CLAIRE SMITH AND ROGER SMITH v. UNIVERSITY OF MEDICINE & DENTISTRY OF NEW JERSEY

Annotate this Case

 

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE

APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY

APPELLATE DIVISION

DOCKET NO. A-3355-04T3

CLAIRE SMITH AND ROGER SMITH,

her husband,

Plaintiffs-Appellants,

v.

UNIVERSITY OF MEDICINE & DENTISTRY

OF NEW JERSEY,

Defendant-Respondent,

and

CESEARIO CONSTRUCTION,

Defendant.

_____________________________________

 

Argued December 21, 2005 - Decided

Before Judges Wecker and Fuentes.

On appeal from Superior Court of

New Jersey, Law Division, Essex

County, Docket No. ESX L-0673-04.

William L. Gold argued the cause for

appellants (Bendit Weinstock, attorneys;

Mr. Gold, on the brief).

Karen L. Jordan, Deputy Attorney General,

argued the cause for respondent (Peter C.

Harvey, Attorney General, attorney for

respondent; Jean Reilly, Deputy Attorney

General, of counsel; Ms. Jordan, on the

brief).

PER CURIAM

Plaintiff Claire Smith appeals from the dismissal of her cause of action against defendant the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ). The trial court granted defendant's motion for summary judgment, finding that the common law snow removal immunity applied to plaintiff's claim. We agree and affirm.

The facts are not disputed. Plaintiff slipped and fell on ice, as she exited the parking lot of UMDNJ's facility in Newark. The ice formed when melted snow, piled next to the elevator entrance, refroze. UMDNJ employees created the snow pile as part of their snow-clearing efforts.

Defendant is a public entity serving a statutorily defined public purpose. N.J.S.A. 18A:64G-2. As a public entity, UMDNJ enjoys the immunity protections embodied in the Tort Claims Act (TCA). N.J.S.A. 59:1-1 to 12-3. It is well-settled that public entities are protected from liability based on negligent snow removal, under both the common law and the TCA. Rochinsky v. State, Dep't of Transp., 110 N.J. 399, 414-15 (1988); N.J.S.A. 59:2-1(b).

 
Plaintiff's reliance on Bligen v. Jersey City Hous. Auth., 131 N.J. 124 (1993), for the proposition that UMDNJ should be held liable here, because "snow-removal immunity" applies only to accidents which occur on streets or highways, is misplaced and erroneous as a matter of law. The size or configuration of the area where the accident occurred is not the determining factor. The applicability of the so-called Bligen exception is dependant upon the existence of a landlord-tenant relationship. O'Connell v. New Jersey Sports & Exposition Auth., 337 N.J. Super. 122, 133-34 (App. Div.), certif. denied, 168 N.J. 293 (2001).

Affirmed.

The reference to plaintiff includes Roger Smith's per quod claims.

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A-3355-04T3

January 9, 2006