Defense Verdict – Slip and Fall on Exterior Stairway


Attorney Gerard Donnelly successfully obtained a defense verdict in a jury trial arising from a slip and fall on snow and ice on an exterior stairway.

The plaintiff, a tenant at the subject property, alleged the defendant landlord failed to maintain the residential property and that a leak in the third floor porch roof allowed water to accumulate and freeze on the stairway connecting the second and third floors.  The plaintiff alleged she slipped on the ice and fell almost the length of the stairs while on her back.  She claimed that her resulting back injuries disabled her from her normal activities and employment.

The plaintiff argued that the subject property had been inspected by the Board of Health prior to her fall and the Board had found that the third floor porch roof was leaking and in need of repair.  Further, the plaintiff submitted the Board of Health’s report showing that the property was out of code with regard to heating and fire detector / carbon monoxide detector requirements and had numerous additional violations.

Attorney Donnelly argued that the plaintiff was in the process of being evicted and that her allegations were retaliatory in nature.  Further, Attorney Donnelly highlighted the inconsistencies in the plaintiff’s testimony with regard to whether the plaintiff owed back rent to the defendant landlord, whether she previously complained of the alleged defect to the landlord, and whether there were any eyewitnesses to her fall.  Further, the defense took the position that any code violations were a condition not a cause.

The jury deliberated for approximately fifteen minutes and returned with a finding of negligence, but no proximate cause.

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