On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, Docket No. L-7385-07.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Telephonically Argued July 6, 2010
Before Judges Cuff and Fuentes.
Plaintiff Louis N. DeLucca was injured when he slipped and fell in the loading dock area of his employer's, Givuadan Roure Corp., place of business. Plaintiff filed a personal injury cause of action*fn2 against defendant, Duke's Landscape Management Mulch and Pro, Inc. (Duke's Landscape), alleging that it negligently performed its duties to clear the loading dock area of snow and ice.
On Duke's Landscape's motion for summary judgment, the Law Division dismissed plaintiff's complaint finding, as a matter of law, that Duke's Landscape was not responsible for the conditions that led to plaintiff's fall. We affirm.
In addressing plaintiff's arguments on appeal, we will apply the same standard used by the Law Division. Prudential Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co. v. Boylan, 307 N.J. Super. 162, 167 (App. Div.), certif. denied, 154 N.J. 608 (1998). That standard is codified in Rule 4:46-2(c), which provides that summary judgment shall be granted if "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact challenged and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment or order as a matter of law." See also Brill v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 142 N.J. 520, 528-29 (1995). In determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, we consider the evidence presented in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion for summary judgment. Id. at 540.
With these principles in mind, we describe the following facts in the light most favorable to plaintiff. At all times relevant to this case, plaintiff was employed as a truck driver by Givaudan Roure Corp., a manufacturer of fragrance chemicals. At approximately 4:00 a.m. on December 20, 2005, plaintiff reported to work by pulling his delivery truck into the loading dock area. He loaded his truck with that day's shipment and drove away without further incident.
Plaintiff returned to the loading area at the end of his workday, approximately 2:30 p.m. He pulled the truck into the same spot he had used when he first reported to work. When he walked around the back of the truck, he slipped and fell to the ground, injuring himself.*fn3 During his deposition, plaintiff indicated that it had rained the night before the accident, but he could not remember the weather conditions on the date of the accident, or the last time it had snowed.
As part of its contract with Givaudan Roure Corp., Duke's Landscape agreed to perform the following snow-removal services:
1. Snow plowing will be done in such a manner as not to plow in any parked vehicles, fire hydrants, stand pipes, mail boxes, dumpsters, or entrances.
2. Work shall begin upon accumulation of one
(1) inch of snow/ice, or at the request of Management. Accumulation at night will be plowed from the main roads by 5:30 a.m. Continuing snow during the day will ...