In an interesting case out of New York State, an appellate judge reversed a lower court ruling that found against a slip-and-fall accident victim. The case was brought by Mr. Palazzo after he slipped and fell on some ice outside the defendant’s residence.
According to court documents, Mr. Palazzo was walking down the sidewalk outside the defendant’s residence at approximately 11:15 a.m. on December 15th when he slipped and fell. He testified that he noticed that the sidewalk was went and icy in some parts, but he didn’t notice any specific patches of ice. After he fell, he sued the property owner to cover his medical bills and his pain and suffering.
The judge presiding over the trial made note of the fact that Mr. Palazzo didn’t see any specific patch of ice. The judge also looked at weather reports on the day of the accident that indicated that there was warm temperatures in the morning of the accident, and that it was unlikely that there was actually any snow or ice on the sidewalk. The most recent storm was on December 10th, when it snowed five inches.
The judge ruled against Mr. Palazzo, explaining that he failed to prove any liability on the part of the property owner. Mr. Palazzo then appealed the case to an appellate court.
The appellate court agreed with Mr. Palazzo and reversed the lower court’s judgment. The court of appeals also looked at weather reports, and agreed that the most recent snow storm was five days before the accident. However, the court looked at average temperatures between December 10 and December 15 and determined that the average was at or near freezing for much of that time. Thus, the court held, Mr. Palazzo’s version of the events was plausible.
The court of appeals ended up reversing the judgment of the lower court and remanding the case back to the lower court for that court to determine what damages were appropriate, now that liability had been established. However, before the court could make that determination, the parties settled at an amount of $235,000.
Reversing a Court’s Judgment on Appeal
An appellate court rarely intervenes in a lower court’s ruling unless the lower court made some kind of legal error in the case. This case is unusual in that regard. The appellate court essentially came to a different conclusion than the lower court and reversed based on that difference in opinion.
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