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Boyrie v. E & G Prop. Servs., et al.

August 5, 2020

Plaintiff and a companion went to an apartment building owned and managed by Defendant.  Plaintiff went to the building to visit a tenant who was repairing her television.  After receiving no response at the front door, Plaintiff and her companion entered an unlit paved area behind the building.  The paved area resembled a parking lot and was adjacent to a public sidewalk.  Plaintiff’s companion called out for the tenant, but again no response.  Plaintiff decided to leave.  While leaving the paved area, Plaintiff slipped and fell, fracturing her ankle.  Plaintiff brought suit, claiming Defendant was negligent in failing to remove snow and ice from the paved area.  Defendant responded that Plaintiff was trespassing at the time of the fall and that, as a result, Defendant did not owe Plaintiff a duty to remove snow and ice from the paved area.  The trial court granted summary judgment for Defendant.  On appeal, the D.C. Court of Appeals noted that an invitation to enter a property may be implied from the circumstances.  The Court of Appeals noted a lack of evidence showing that access to the paved area had been restricted in any fashion.  The Court reasoned that Plaintiff could have believed that the paved area was open to the public at large or, at the very least, to a person visiting a tenant in the building.  Accordingly, the Court of Appeals reversed the grant of summary judgment and remanded the case for trial.