The “Ongoing Storm Rule” is Still Ongoing in New Jersey

by Louis Niedelman, Esq.

This article follows up on a previously published article announcing a ruling of the New Jersey Supreme Court that reinstated the “ongoing storm rule.” Pareja v Princeton International Properties. This decision ruled that commercial property owners do not have a duty to remove the accumulation of snow and ice from their premises until the conclusion of the storm. There were two exceptions to this rule:    

  1. If the property owner’s conduct increased the risk to the public; or
  2. If the danger to the public was pre-existing.

On July 3, 2023, the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court decided the case of Smith v. Costco Wholesale Corp.

In this case, a Costco shopper was walking to her vehicle in the Costco parking lot when she slipped on snow and fell, which caused injury. It was snowing at the time of her accident.

Her attorney argued to the court that the Pareja decision only applied to public property because of a sentence in the Pareja decision that said “. . . a landowner does not have a duty to remove snow or ice from public walkways until a reasonable time after the cessation of precipitation.”

The Appellate Court rejected this argument and ruled that the “ongoing storm rule” applied to both public and private property.

So, in conclusion, for all public and private property owners, you may sit back and wait until the storm ends before taking reasonable measures to clear ice and snow from your premises -of course, subject to the two exceptions above.