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McBride v. Taxman Corp.

January 30, 2002

GRACE MCBRIDE, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
THE TAXMAN CORPORATION, AND ARCTIC SNOW AND ICE CONTROL, INC., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS, AND AMERICAN NATIONAL BANK & TRUST COMPANY OF CHICAGO, AS TRUSTEE UNDER TRUST DATED FEBRUARY 15, 1983, WALGREEN COMPANY, AND KEDZIE PLAZA ASSOCIATES, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Cerda

UNPUBLISHED

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County

Honorable Sophia H. Hall, Judge Presiding.

Plaintiff, Grace McBride, alleged in her complaint that she fell on snow and ice outside the entrance to the Walgreens store where she was employed, on January 27, 1996. She appeals from the entry of summary judgment in favor of defendant The Taxman Corporation, the property manager of the shopping center where the Walgreens store was located, and defendant Arctic Snow and Ice Control, Inc., the snow-removal contractor. We affirm.

Plaintiff's complaint also named as defendants American National Bank & Trust Company of Chicago, as trustee under trust dated February 15, 1983; Walgreen Company; and Kedzie Plaza Associates, the owner of the shopping center.

Count I was brought against Taxman. Prior to January 27, 1996, Walgreens had entered into a lease with Taxman for the operation of a drug store. Pursuant to the lease, Taxman agreed to promptly remove snow and ice from sidewalks. It was alleged that Taxman negligently allowed the accumulation of ice and snow in areas of pedestrian travel, negligently failed to remove the accumulation of ice and snow in areas of pedestrian travel, and negligently failed to properly maintain the sidewalks and walkways around the drug store so that it would be safe for use by plaintiff.

Count II was brought against Arctic. Plaintiff alleged that Taxman had an agreement with Arctic to remove ice and snow from the sidewalk areas surrounding the Walgreens store. Plaintiff alleged that Arctic negligently failed to properly remove snow and ice from the sidewalks and walkways around the store, negligently created unnatural accumulations of snow and ice, and negligently failed to salt or otherwise treat the ice on the sidewalks and walkways.

Plaintiff settled with Kedzie Plaza Associates and with Walgreens, and counts IV and V were dismissed.

In the Walgreen lease, in a paragraph captioned "parking," Kedzie Plaza Associates agreed to remove snow and ice:

"It is an express condition of this lease that at all times during the continuance of this lease, Landlord shall provide, maintain, repair, adequately light when necessary during Tenant's business hours, clean, promptly remove snow and ice from, supervise and keep available the Parking Areas as shown on said attached plan (which Parking Areas shall provide for the parking of at least 290 automobiles), and also adequate service and [sic] receiving areas, pedestrian malls, sidewalks, curbs, roadways and other facilities appurtenant thereto." (Emphasis added.)

On October 10, 1995, Taxman signed, on behalf of the owner, Arctic's one-page "Snow Removal Proposal & Contract" (although dated August 7, 1995), for the term November 15, 1995, through April 15, 1996, for the shopping center where this Walgreens store was located. The contract contained a disclaimer for ice-related accidents.

Also on October 10, 1995, Arctic and Taxman signed a multi-page document dated October 3, 1995, that was apparently drafted by Taxman. The document was not given a title but contained several pages of terms concerning snow removal "per contract(s) attached." The document stated that "all sidewalk areas shall be completely cleared of ice and snow from end-to-end."

Plaintiff testified at her deposition that she fell on ice and snow on the sidewalk near the entrance to Walgreens. She thought the ice had been there for about a week. She did not know how the ice had formed.

Taxman and Arctic moved for summary judgment arguing that Taxman was responsible only for managing the property and that property managers and snow-removal contractors owed no duty to the general public to remove natural accumulations of ice and snow. They also argued that plaintiff had not come forward with evidence ...


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