The Kentucky Chamber, joined by the National Federation of Independent Businesses and the Kentucky Retail Federation, filed another amicus brief with the Kentucky Supreme Court this week, this time in the matter of Stapleton v. Citizens. The plaintiff in Stapleton sued a bank after she slipped on ice and injured herself in the bank’s parking lot. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the bank and the Kentucky Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed.
The Supreme Court is reviewing whether business owners owe a duty to customers to warn or remove natural conditions such as snow and ice. The current standard, which has been in place for decades, imposes no such duty unless actions by the business owner heighten or conceal the hazard of the natural condition. The Chamber argues that to overturn longtime precedent on this issue would be an unreasonable burden upon businesses and the economy. Business owners would be required to take onerous and expensive measures to try to completely remove all snow and ice, when the commensurate benefit will likely be slight because snow and ice will typically melt away naturally within a short period of time. Additionally, the “no duty” rule currently does not act to discourage Kentucky businesses from removing snow and ice, as their main goal is not to avoid liability but instead to attract customers through competition, quality, and service.