Appeal from the District Court of the Seventh Judicial District of the State of Idaho, Bingham County. Hon. Darren B. Simpson, District Judge.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Horton, Justice.
The district court's order granting summary judgment is reversed and the case is remanded for proceedings consistent with this opinion.
JoAn and Fred Ball (JoAn and Fred, collectively the Balls) are patrons of the City of Blackfoot's (the City) municipal pool. JoAn slipped on ice accumulated on the sidewalk between the pool and the parking lot. The Balls brought suit against the City. The district court granted summary judgment dismissing the Balls' claims on the ground that, under Pearson v. Boise City, 80 Idaho 494, 333 P.2d 998 (1959), property owners are not liable for injuries resulting from natural accumulations of snow or ice. We reverse.
I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
On February 28, 2008, moments after Fred parked at the Blackfoot municipal pool and JoAn stepped out of their vehicle, JoAn slipped, fell, and was knocked unconscious. As a result of the fall, JoAn suffered physical and neurological injuries including a sore back, double vision, loss of hearing, dizziness, and momentary blackouts. The Balls brought suit, asserting that the City negligently failed to keep the sidewalk free of ice and snow and that defectively designed landscaping caused ice to accumulate on the sidewalk.
The City moved for summary judgment and both parties submitted affidavits. The pool manager claimed to have sprinkled ice melt on the sidewalk three times before pool patrons began to arrive on the day of the accident. The manager stated she applied ice melt in the area where JoAn later fell. A City building official stated that the construction of the sidewalk where the fall occurred met relevant codes and regulations. Fred stated that, immediately after the fall, he observed signs that ice melt had been applied near the pool entrance, but did not observe similar signs on the sidewalk where JoAn fell. Fred stated that ice had accumulated on the sidewalk where JoAn fell, making it very slick. Both Fred and another pool patron asserted that the City had piled snow on the grassy slope that abutted the sidewalk. When the piled snow melted, the runoff flowed down the slope, where it accumulated and froze on the sidewalk. The other patron stated that she had complained of these conditions to the pool manager prior to JoAn's fall.
The City moved to strike portions of the affidavits submitted by the Balls. The district court ruled on the City's motion to strike and its motion for summary judgment simultaneously, holding that the motion to strike was moot because "the particular facts of this case fall so squarely within Idaho Supreme Court precedent, that the affidavits submitted by the Balls have no bearing upon the viability of their claims." The court concluded that the Balls had alleged facts virtually identical to those in Pearson v. Boise City, 80 Idaho 494, 333 P.2d 998 (1959), and since Pearson established that a property owner is not liable for natural accumulations of ice and trivial sidewalk defects, the City was not liable to the Balls. The district court thus granted the City's motion for summary judgment. The Balls timely appealed.
This Court applies the same standard in reviewing the appeal of an order granting summary judgment as did the trial court in granting the motion. Estate of Becker v. Callahan, 140 Idaho 522, 525, 96 P.3d 623, 626 (2004). We will construe all disputed facts and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Id. "The judgment sought shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." I.R.C.P. 56(c). "The existence of a duty is a question of law over which this Court exercises free review." Turpen v. Granieri, 133 Idaho 244, 247, 985 P.2d 669, 672 (1999).
A. The district court applied the wrong legal standard and therefore its grant of summary ...