Martin v. CIL Realty Inc., Superior Court, Judicial District of Tolland at Rockville, 2022 WL 3135920 (Aug. 4, 2022).  The plaintiff alleged that he slipped and fell on ice in the driveway of the commercial building owned by the defendant.  The defendant moved for summary judgment on the grounds that it neither possessed nor controlled the driveway based on a commercial lease agreement it had with the plaintiff's employer.  At issue was which respective interpretation of the various lease provisions by each party controls with regard to liability for the ice removal. The defendant argued that the section of the lease agreement stating that the plaintiff's employer “shall, at its own expense…keep the Premises in good and sanitary condition as may be necessary to keep them in good repair and appearance” and that the plaintiff's employer “shall be responsible for the following repair and maintenance requirements: …clear snow and sand driveway and all walkways” established that the defendant did not have possession or control of the premises.  The plaintiff argued that there was a genuine issue of material fact regarding whether the defendant possessed and controlled the driveway based on lease provisions holding the defendant responsible for “capital improvements and replacements” including “driveway paving and sealing.” The Court held that the lease agreement between the defendant and the plaintiff's employer unambiguously placed responsibility for removing snow and ice from the driveway on the plaintiff's employer, and therefore the defendant was not in possession and control of the driveway or said condition that the plaintiff alleged caused him to fall. Therefore, the defendant did not owe a duty of care to the plaintiff. Although other lease provisions imposed limited duties on the defendant with regard to capital improvements and replacements, including responsibility for driveway paving and sealing, these provisions did not relate to the removal of snow or ice from the driveway.  Additional evidence, including testimony of multiple witnesses and an invoice submitted, demonstrated that the plaintiff's employer was at all times responsible for removing snow and ice from the driveway.  As such, summary judgment was granted in favor of the defendant.

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