Library granted immunity from suit
Woman sued after slipping on ice near door
Saturday, May 31, 2014 5:00 AM
The Madison-Jefferson County Public Library was granted immunity Friday in a lawsuit filed after a woman slipped on a patch of ice on the building's steps in January 2012.
Alma Stanbary, a corrections officer, was going into the library to pick up three work release participants when she slipped on a patch of ice in front of a side door, injuring herself.
Under Indiana law, government entities - which would include the library - are immune from having to pay damages resulting from temporary conditions resulting from weather.
In a deposition, the assistant library director said she did not notice any ice outside the building when she arrived at about 8 a.m.
Weather data presented to the Jefferson County Circuit Court during a summary judgment hearing showed there had been no inclement weather prior to the date Stanbary fell. That meant the ice had formed the day she fell.
The data also showed the temperature dropped below freezing at 8 a.m. that day.
Special Judge Gregory Coy ruled in favor of the library at that hearing. The decision was appealed.
The biggest issue that came before the Court of Appeals was if the weather conditions had been "temporary." In her opinion, Judge Elaine Brown wrote that temporary hinges on whether a governmental entity has the time and opportunity to, in this case, clear the ice off the sidewalk.
"The weather data and deposition testimony designated by the parties show that the (ice) was a temporary condition and that the Library was unaware of the condition," Brown wrote. Chief Judge Nancy Vaidik and Judge Edward Najam Jr. concurred with the opinion.