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Anderson v. Fox Hill Village Homeowners Corp.

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Anderson (Plaintiff) worked at a skilled nursing facility located on the premises leased by Fox Hill Village Homeowners Corporation (Defendant).  Plaintiff appealed from summary judgment for Defendant entered in her claim for damages for a slip and fall caused by the icy condition of the property under the control of the Defendant.  

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    .  In order to recover as a third-party beneficiary, the Plaintiff must show that the parties to the contract intended that the Plaintiff would receive the benefit of the promised performance.

    The general rule is that landowners have no duty to remove a natural accumulation of snow or ice.

    Facts.

    The Defendant’s lease provided that they would “promptly remove snow and ice from all driveways and walkways.”  However, Defendant had not removed the ice on the morning of the Plaintiff’s fall. 

    The trial court ruled that the Plaintiff was not an intended third-party beneficiary under the lease, and granted summary judgment to the Defendant. 

    Issue.

    ·         Was Plaintiff an intended third-party beneficiary?

    ·         Could Plaintiff recover under in tort?

    Held.

    Affirmed.

    ·         The trial court correctly ruled that the Plaintiff was not a third-party beneficiary of the lease.  Under the lease, Defendant assumed sole responsibility for operations and maintenance of a retirement complex.  There was no indication that the obligations were imposed for the benefit of the employees of the nursing facility.

    ·         Failure to perform a contractual duty is not a tort in the absence of a duty to act apart from the promise made.  In Massachusetts, the law does not regard the natural accumulation of snow and ice as an actionable property defect.  

    Dissent.

    None

    Concurrence.

    None

    Discussion.

    .  The Plaintiff could not recover for her slip and fall because she was not an intended third-party beneficiary of the lease, and there was no tort remedy because the law did not require landowners to remove accumulations of snow and ice.


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