Ocasio v. Verdura Construction, LLC, 215 Conn. App. 139 (2022). The plaintiff brought an action against a property owner alleging injury from a defective railing. The defendant asserted the defense of the ongoing storm doctrine due to evidence of inclement weather at the time of the accident.  The doctrine holds that a landowner has no duty to clear or clean land of defective snow or ice until a reasonable time after an ongoing storm had ceased. At trial, the plaintiff testified that he fell due to the defective railing—not as the result of snow—and the plaintiff's counsel indicated that was the theory they would be presenting to the jury. Despite this contention, and over the plaintiff's objection, the trial court instructed the jury as to the ongoing storm doctrine, instructing that if a storm was ongoing, and the storm was the proximate cause of the plaintiff's fall and damages, the plaintiff's claim would fail. Following a defendant's verdict, the plaintiff appealed and argued that the trial court erred in instructing the jury as to the ongoing storm doctrine, and further, that its instruction and interrogatories regarding the same were harmful.  The Appellate Court agreed and reversed and remanded for a new trial; determining that the ongoing storm was inapplicable, as the plaintiff never claimed the defendant was negligent by failing to remove snow and ice from the area where he fell, and as such, the doctrine, which implicated duty, not causation, was irrelevant. The Appellate Court also determined that the trial court's instruction was harmful, as it made an irrelevant issue a predominant feature of the case, and that its instruction essentially told the jury that there could be only a single proximate cause for the plaintiff's fall: either an ongoing storm or the defective railing, but not both, when typically the plaintiff need only provide the defendant's conduct was a proximate cause of his injuries. 

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.