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Walker v. 24570 Lakeshore Property L.L.C.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

May 11, 2017

TERRY WALKER PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT
v.
24570 LAKESHORE PROPERTY L.L.C., ET AL. DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES

         Civil Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case No. CV-16-856870

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Paul A. Mancino, Jr. Mancino Mancino & Mancino

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE Robert D. Warner Reminger & Reminger Co., L.P.A.

          JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION

          MARY EILEEN KILBANE, JUDGE

         {¶1} Plaintiff-appellant, Terry Walker ("Walker"), appeals from the trial court's judgment granting summary judgment in favor of defendants-appellees, 24570 Lakeshore Property, L.L.C., d.b.a. Greenwood Apartments ("Lakeshore"). For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.

         {¶2} Lakeshore is the owner and landlord of a multi-unit apartment building located at 24570 Lakeshore Boulevard in Euclid, Ohio ("the premises"). Walker was a new tenant of Lakeshore's. On February 14, 2015, Walker left her apartment and was walking to her car. She was not able to exit the building through the rear door because it was frozen shut with ice. As a result, she exited from the front door. Outside the front door were two steps and a sidewalk leading to the parking lot where Walker's car was parked.

         {¶3} On the day of the incident, it had been snowing. Walker described the weather as somewhat of a blizzard, cold, snowy, and icy, with up to seven inches of snow on the ground. It was snowing and icy a couple days before then. As a result, there was ice and snow everywhere. When Walker walked down the stairs and onto the sidewalk, she began to slide on the icy sidewalk. She then lost her balance and fell to the ground.

         {¶4} In January 2016, Walker filed a complaint against Lakeshore, alleging that Lakeshore was negligent and violated its statutory duties under R.C. 5321.04, requiring a landlord to keep all common areas of the premises in a safe condition. Lakeshore filed an answer, denying the allegations and asserting that the condition of the sidewalk was open and obvious.

         {¶5} After discovery, Lakeshore moved for summary judgment. In its motion, Lakeshore argued that Walker fell because of a natural accumulation of snow and ice, which constitutes an open-and-obvious danger. As an open-and-obvious danger, Lakeshore argued that it had no duty to warn Walker or remove the snow. Attached to its motion was a copy of an article from cleveland.com discussing the heavy snowfall in the Cleveland area on February 14, 2015. Walker opposed the motion and filed a motion to strike this article as an unauthenticated exhibit. The trial court denied the motion to strike and granted summary judgment in Lakeshore's favor. The court found that Lakeshore is "entitled to summary judgment because the cause of [Walker's] fall was an open and obvious natural accumulation of ice and snow on a sidewalk."

         {¶6} It is from this order that Walker appeals, raising the following two assignments of error for review.

Assignment of Error One
[Walker] was denied due process of law when the court granted a motion for summary judgment as there were genuine issues of material facts which precluded a grant of summary judgment.
Assignment of Error Two
The court erred in not striking ...

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