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Dehoyos v. Golden Manor Apartments

Court of Appeals of Indiana

May 7, 2018

Frances Dehoyos, Appellant-Plaintiff,
v.
Golden Manor Apartments, Appellee-Defendant.

          Appeal from the Lake Superior Court. The Honorable John M. Sedia, Judge. Trial Court Cause No. 45D01-1509-CT-169

          Attorney for Appellant Robert A. Plantz Robert A. Plantz & Associates, LLC Merrillville, Indiana

          Attorneys for Appellee Kimberly P. Peil Lauren K. Kroeger Hoeppner Wagner & Evans LLP Merrillville, Indiana

          Darden, Senior Judge

         Statement of the Case

         [¶1] Frances Dehoyos appeals the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Golden Manor Apartments. We reverse and remand.

         Issue

         [¶2] Dehoyos raises one dispositive issue, which we restate as: whether the trial court erred in granting Golden Manor's motion for summary judgment.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶3] Golden Manor is a senior citizen living facility located in Hammond, Indiana. During the winter of 2013, Golden Manor's maintenance staff would generally arrive at work at 8:00 a.m. to inspect the parking lot and sidewalk for ice and snow. In its response to Dehoyos' interrogatories, Golden Manor indicated that its policy was to have staff also apply salt to sidewalks as needed. Golden Manor had also contracted with Meier Snow Plow Company to clear snow from the parking lot and to apply salt to sidewalks and the parking lot. However, under the terms of the contract, Meier performed ice melting applications only when directed by Golden Manor.

         [¶4] Dehoyos lived at Golden Manor. Earlier, in 2013, she had experienced a situation wherein Golden Manor's management had failed to ensure that snow was removed from the sidewalks. As she walked toward the building, she found herself up to her ankles in icy snow. On that occasion, the building's manager helped her walk through the snow and ice. On other occasions, Dehoyos observed that Golden Manor's management failed to clean snow and ice off sidewalks "until late afternoon." Appellant's App. Vol. II, p. 49. She had also heard other residents complain about a lack of timeliness in clearing off ice and snow on the premises.

         [¶5] On the morning of Sunday, December 29, 2013, there was snow on the ground, and it had been there for a few days. It was cold. Meier's workers had applied salt at Golden Manor over the previous several days. There is no evidence that Golden Manor's staff inspected the sidewalks or applied salt on the morning of December 29, 2013. Between 10:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m., Dehoyos exited Golden Manor's building. The door she used opened onto a sidewalk that led to the parking lot. A portion of the building's downspout was located on top of the sidewalk.

         [¶6] Dehoyos took approximately two steps onto the sidewalk and then slipped and fell on ice, striking her head. Although the sidewalk had initially appeared clear, there was a "glaze" of ice on it. Id. at 41, 46. Dehoyos bled from a cut on her head. She managed to return to her apartment and called her children, and was taken to the hospital. She also sustained an injured ankle. Further, after the fall Dehoyos began experiencing recurring headaches and neck pain.

         [¶7] It appears from Golden Manor's phone records that Golden Manor called Meier shortly before 11:00 a.m. It further appears that Meier's employees went to Golden Manor shortly thereafter and again at approximately 3:30 p.m. that day and applied two bags of salt at some point during those visits. On the next day, December 30, ...


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