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Homeowner’s Failure to Clear Icy Sidewalk Costs Him $238,500

January 30, 1994

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ A homeowner who allowed his sidewalk to ice over was ordered to pay $238,500 to a passer-by who slipped and hurt her back.

Samuel Bitonti should have cleared a clogged drainpipe that allowed water to spill over and freeze on the sidewalk in front of his downtown home, a Common Pleas jury ruled Thursday.

Lynaire Butler slipped on the sidewalk in 1987. She said she suffered nerve damage in her back, spent more than $11,000 in medical bills and lost $2,000 in wages for a month of missed work.

The jury award was for the lost wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering.

″The message here is you have to be pretty darn careful about your sidewalks,″ said Michael P. Creedon, Bitonti’s lawyer. ″It’s a scary proposition for the homeowner.″

Creedon argued that Butler was at fault because she was not careful where she was walking. He said he would appeal the ruling.

Bitonti testified that he could not remember the last time he had cleaned his drain and admitted he had noticed the sidewalk became icy in winter.

Butler, 37, said she thought the ice was a pool of water.