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Henderson v. Reid Hospital and Healthcare Services

Court of Appeals of Indiana

September 8, 2014

LORI A. HENDERSON, Appellant-Plaintiff,
v.
REID HOSPITAL AND HEALTHCARE SERVICES, Appellee-Defendant

Page 312

APPEAL FROM THE WAYNE SUPERIOR COURT. The Honorable Gregory A. Horn, Judge. Cause No. 89D02-1202-CT-5.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: JOHN A. SMALLEY, Dyer, Garofalo, Mann & Schultz, Dayton, Ohio; RYAN C. BECK, Dyer, Garofalo, Mann & Schultz, Richmond, Indiana.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: LAURA K. BINFORD, JAMES O. GIFFIN, Riley Bennett & Egloff, LLP, Indianapolis, Indiana.

KIRSCH, Judge. BAILEY, J., concurs. MAY, J., dissents with separate opinion.

OPINION

Page 313

KIRSCH, Judge

Lori A. Henderson appeals the trial court's order granting summary judgment in favor of Reid Hospital and Healthcare Services (" the Hospital" ). She specifically contends that it was error to grant summary judgment because the trial court utilized the wrong standard when it held that the Hospital did not have a duty to remove the ice that had accumulated on its premises until the freezing fog had ceased and that genuine issues of material fact existed as to whether the Hospital used reasonable care under the circumstances when it cleared its premises of ice.

We reverse and remand.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY[1]

The Hospital is a non-profit corporation located in Richmond, Indiana, which leased property on its campus to Richmond Cardiology. The salting and plowing of the Hospital's parking lots and grounds is taken care of by the Hospital's engineering department. Pursuant to the Hospital's policies and practices, its security personnel are responsible for notifying the engineering department of snow and/or ice on the Hospital's premises immediately upon discovering any such conditions. If such conditions develop before the maintenance crew from the engineering department have arrived at work for the day, then the maintenance crew members are called at home and told to come in to the Hospital so they can begin removing snow and ice and/or spreading salt and/or calcium chloride on the property. Both salt and calcium chloride are effective in rapidly melting ice and snow.

On February 22, 2010, no snow, ice, or precipitation of any kind had accumulated on the Hospital's premises. However, at approximately 5:55 a.m. on February 23, 2010, the Hospital's engineering department was notified by its security staff that slick conditions were beginning to develop in the parking lots due to the presence of freezing fog. This was the first report of slick and icy conditions on the property. After being notified, the Hospital's engineering department immediately summoned members of the maintenance crew

Page 314

from their homes. By 6:41 a.m., four members of the maintenance crew were spreading salt and calcium chloride on the parking lots and sidewalks of the Hospital. The Hospital's maintenance crew used two salt trucks and hand spreaders to apply the salt and calcium chloride to the parking lots and sidewalks. By 7:45 a.m. on February 23, 2010, the maintenance crew had spread approximately 3,600 pounds of salt and 2,000 pounds of calcium chloride on the parking lots and sidewalks of the Hospital.

On the morning of February 23, 2010, Henderson drove to her workplace, Richmond Cardiology, which was located on the campus of the Hospital. Henderson typically arrived at work at approximately 7:30 a.m. As she drove into work that morning, Henderson did not notice any ice or slick spots on the roadway. At approximately 7:20 a.m., Henderson parked her vehicle in the parking lot of the Hospital, and as she exited her vehicle, her feet slipped out from under her and she fell. As she was being helped up from the ground by another person, Henderson noticed there was ice on the parking lot where she had stepped when exiting the vehicle. Security personnel went out to the location of Henderson's vehicle at approximately 7:40 a.m. and took photographs of ice on the parking lot near Henderson's vehicle and then notified maintenance that the parking lots were insufficiently salted.

At approximately 7:00 a.m., prior to Henderson's fall, Cathy Fry, one of Henderson's co-workers, left home and began driving to work. When Fry left home, no ice had accumulated on her driveway or on nearby streets, and no precipitation was falling. However, by the time she reached the Hospital approximately ten minutes later, fog was forming and beginning to freeze in the Hospital's parking lot. The maintenance crew was already treating the property when Fry arrived, and one of the Hospital's maintenance vehicles was spreading salt in the area of the parking lot where Fry parked, which is also the same area where Henderson parked.

On February 3, 2012, Henderson filed a complaint against the Hospital, alleging that she was injured in the Hospital's parking lot when she slipped and fell on ice while stepping out of her vehicle, that her injuries were caused by a dangerous and hazardous condition known by the Hospital and that the Hospital was negligent because its parking area was not free from ice. On June 24, 2013, the Hospital filed a motion for summary judgment, claiming that it did not breach its duty of care owed to Henderson. On October 14, 2013, the trial court granted the Hospital's motion for summary judgment, finding that there was no genuine issue of material fact that the Hospital did not breach any duty of care owed to Henderson because the Hospital did not have a reasonable amount of time to remove ice from its premises prior to Henderson's incident. Henderson now appeals.

DISCUSSION AND DECISION

When reviewing the grant of summary judgment, our standard of review is the same as that of the trial court. FLM, LLC v. Cincinnati Ins. Co., 973 N.E.2d 1167, 1173 (Ind.Ct.App. 2012) (citing Wilcox Mfg. Grp., Inc. v. Mktg. Servs. of Ind., Inc., 832 N.E.2d 559, 562 (Ind.Ct.App. 2005)), trans. denied. We stand in the shoes of the trial court and apply a de novo standard of review. Id. (citing Cox v. N. Ind. Pub. Serv. Co., 848 N.E.2d 690, 695 (Ind.Ct.App. 2006)). Our review of a summary judgment motion is limited to those materials designated ...


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