July 30, 2010
MARYANN MURPHY AND PATRICK B. MURPHY, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
ROSE YATZUS AND CHARLES YATZUS, DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS.
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Gloucester County, Docket No. L-119-08.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted: July 6, 2010
Before Judges Cuff and Fuentes.
Plaintiffs*fn1 Maryann Murphy and her husband, Patrick B. Murphy, appeal from an order granting defendants Rose Yatzus and Charles Yatzus's motion for summary judgment. We affirm.
Viewing the facts and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn from those facts in the light most favorable to plaintiff, Brill v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 142 N.J. 520, 540 (1995), the record reveals that plaintiff delivered newspapers to defendants each morning. Defendants insisted that plaintiff place the paper near their front door rather than tossing it in the driveway.
On February 15, 2007, plaintiff commenced her morning newspaper delivery route. It had snowed during the night, and as plaintiff started her rounds, snowplows were clearing snow from the roads. When she arrived at defendants' house at 5:30 a.m., it was still dark. Plaintiff parked her car, crossed defendants' sidewalk and took approximately three or four steps on the driveway when she fell. It was not snowing at that time, but she noticed an accumulation of snow on the lawn and "a little bit" on the sidewalk. Plaintiff does not dispute that defendants were asleep when she fell, and they had no knowledge that it had snowed during the night or that any snow or ice had accumulated on their driveway.
Judge McMaster found plaintiff was a business invitee. However, she found that defendants did not breach the duty of care owed to plaintiff because they had no knowledge of the weather conditions and had no opportunity to address the condition of the property before plaintiff arrived.
We apply the same test as the motion judge. Prudential Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co. v. Boylan, 307 N.J. Super. 162, 167 (App. Div.), certif. denied, 154 N.J. 608 (1998). Having reviewed the record in its entirety, we find no basis to disturb the summary judgment entered in favor of defendants. We affirm substantially for the reasons expressed by Judge McMaster in her May 1, 2009 oral opinion.