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Sidewalk Liability Law: Who Has the Duty to Clear Ice and Snow?

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On August 12, 2015, the issue of whether the homeowners association and management company of a common-interest community had the duty to clear snow and ice from the community’s prviate sidewalk was decided by the Supreme Court of New Jersey in the case of Cuiyun Qian v. Toll Brothers, Inc., 2015 WL 4743054. In Qian, the Supreme Court reversed the lower courts’ reliance and application for Luchejko v. City of Hoboken, 207 N.J. 191 (2011), which held that the condominium association and the management company were immune from suit for allegedly failing to clear ice from the public sidewalk. In Qian, the Supreme Court held that the immunity of a property owner from personal injury claims on a public sidewalk addressed in Luchejko did not apply to the homeowners association and the management company of the common-interest community. The sidewalk on which the plaintiff was injured was a private sidewalk as it was part of the common area, which was owned and maintained by the homeowners association in accordance with the association’s by-laws and statutory obligations.

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