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Brewton v. Monnette

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Sixth District

September 13, 2013

Sherry Ann Brewton Appellant
v.
John L. Monnette, Jr., et al. Appellees

Trial Court No. CI0201206623

Marvin K. Jacobs and Mark I. Jacobs, for appellant.

Robert J. Bahret and Christine M. Gaynor, for appellees.

DECISION AND JUDGMENT

JENSEN, J.

(¶ 1} Plaintiff-appellant, Sherry Ann Brewton, timely appeals the March 19, 2013, judgment of the Lucas County Court of Common Pleas which granted summary judgment in favor of defendants-appellees, John Monnette, Jr. and Debra S. Monnette. The primary issue before the court in this premises liability case is whether the trial court erred when it held that as a matter of law, the Monnettes were not liable to Brewton for injuries resulting when Brewton slipped on snow and ice at the apartment building they owned. Brewton assigns the following errors for our review:

1. The trial court erred in finding that Appellees did not have a contractual duty to Appellant by implied course of conduct to remove natural accumulations of snow and ice.
2. The trial court erred in finding that Appellees did not owe a common-law duty to Appellant to clear the sidewalk of an unnatural accumulation of snow and ice.

(¶ 2} For the reasons that follow, we find appellant's assignments of error not well-taken and we affirm the trial court's judgment.

I. Factual Background

(¶ 3} Brewton leased an apartment in a building owned by the Monnettes at 4344 W. Bancroft Street in the village of Ottawa Hills. On January 13, 2011, Brewton fell and broke her arm when she slipped on the sidewalk in front of the building while attempting to get her mail. Brewton describes that to get her mail, she drove her car onto the driveway, which had been fully cleared of snow and ice. She exited her car and walked across the sidewalk, which she claims had been partially cleared.[1] In walking across the sidewalk, she fell. She contends that her fall was the result of the Monnettes' failure to clear the sidewalk of snow and ice.

(¶ 4} Brewton had entered into a written lease agreement with the Monnettes on October 4, 2006. The lease agreement provided that Brewton was responsible for snow removal on "walks and driveways on the premises." Despite this provision, during the time she resided at the apartment, the Monnettes had arranged for removal of snow and ice from the common areas. Brewton argues that based on their previous course of conduct, the Monnettes impliedly assumed a contractual duty to remove natural accumulations of snow and ice. Alternatively, she argues that the Monnettes created an unnatural accumulation of snow and ice on the sidewalk by clearing the snow and ice from the driveway, but only partially clearing the sidewalk.

(¶ 5} The trial court granted summary judgment on Brewton's claim that the Monnettes were contractually obligated to remove the snow and ice, citing this court's opinion in Hosler v. Shah, 6th Dist. Lucas No. L-12-1066, 2012-Ohio-5553. In the trial court, Brewton did not raise the argument presented in her second assignment of error, that the Monnettes created an unsafe condition by the manner of clearing the snow and ice, thus the trial court did not address it in its opinion.

(¶ 6} For the following reasons, we find Brewton's assignments of error not well-taken and we affirm the ...


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