Appeals court ends bank examiner's try to sue bank for icy slip-and-fall injuries

By Chandra Lye | Feb 11, 2019

ELGIN - A state appeals court has turned aside a bank examiner's attempt to sue a bank and snow removal company over a slip-and-fall in a bank parking lot that knocked her unconcious nearly five years ago.

On Jan. 24, a three-justice panel of the Illinois Second District Appellate Court upheld the ruling of Stephenson County Circuit Judge Glenn R. Schorsch, granting summary judgment to the defendants Forreston State Bank, which was formerly known as Kent Bank, and Hiester Construction, in the legal action brought by plaintiff Mary Martin.

“After a careful review of the record we find that summary judgment in favor of the Bank and Hiester (Construction) was appropriate here,” Justice Joseph Birkett wrote in the court decision. "The Martins still cannot prevail here since they have not provided any evidence that the ice patch at issue was an unnatural accumulation of ice that was caused or aggravated by defendants." 

Justices Susan Hutchinson and Kathryn Zenoff concurred in the ruling.

Justice Joseph Birkett  

The details of the case revolve around a slip-and-fall that Mary Martin reported having on March 14, 2014, while she was working as an FDIC bank examiner. That day, she went to the bank in the morning and noticed there was some snow in the parking lot. The lot had been plowed by Hiester Construction. After getting out of her vehicle, she allegedly slipped and fell. 

“After the fall she was unconscious in the parking lot for some time. As a result of her fall Mary sustained substantial injuries,” the court decision explained. In her evidence disposition, Martin noted she had worked at Kent Bank the previous day and had not noticed any problems. 

“She did not see any ice in the parking lot on the day she fell or any of the days she was at Kent Bank during that week. She never told anyone at the bank that there were potentially unsafe conditions in the parking lot on the day of the incident or the day before,” Birkett wrote in the court decision.

According to the bank’s records, Hiester had last cared for the lot on March 12 and there had not been any snow on March 13.

Both defendants filed motions for summary judgment and a trial hearing was held. During the hearing, “the bank’s attorney theorized that the ice patch could have been created by snow caught in the wheel well of a vehicle and that snow had fallen on the pavement and froze the night before Mary fell," Birkett wrote. 

"The court noted that it was quite possible that, because Mary said she had parked in the same parking spot the day before she fell, perhaps it was her own vehicle that dripped snow onto the ground from her vehicle’s wheel well the day before she fell."

The court decision was issued as an unpublished order under Supreme Court Rule 23 which limits its use as precedent. 

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