Summary Judgment Granted Based On Natural Accumulation Doctrine

Stacy D. Fulco

Stacy Fulco represented a fast-food chain in Winnebago County and obtained summary judgment for her client. The plaintiff was a passenger in a car in the drive-thru lane when she realized she forgot to order an item so she exited the car and planned to go into the restaurant to place an order.  The weather was very bad all day and while the plaintiff drove to the restaurant it was sleeting.  The plaintiff walked with caution because the ground was slippery but after taking 5 steps she slipped and fell on ice.  After falling, the plaintiff saw the entire parking lot was coated in clear ice.  She admitted she fell because of the ice and the only cause of the ice was the weather.  The plaintiff’s husband, who was in the car, confirmed the weather conditions.  The plaintiff’s attorney argued the fall was caused by a slope in the parking lot pavement and that said slope caused an excess of ice to develop.  A store employee admitted there was  a slope and there was one area where water and ice occasionally built-up, but she did not say this occurred that day and the photographs marked by the plaintiff and the employee confirmed the plaintiff did not fall by that area.  The judge agreed the plaintiff did not fall by the slope and the only cause of the fall was the inclement weather and ice, so the natural accumulation doctrine applied.  Counsel’s theory about the slope causing the fall was not supported by any evidence.  Summary judgment was granted in favor of the restaurant.