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Gagnon v. Western Bldg. Maintenance, Inc.

Supreme Court of Idaho, Coeur D'alene

August 9, 2013

Tracy L. GAGNON and Jeffrey Gagnon, wife and husband, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
WESTERN BUILDING MAINTENANCE, INC., Defendant-Respondent, and John and Jane Does A-H, Defendants.

Page 198

Starr Kelso, Coeur d'Alene, attorney for Appellants.

Law Offices of Raymond Schutts, Liberty Lake, Washington, attorneys for Respondent. Edward G. Johnson argued.

W. JONES, Justice.

I. NATURE OF THE CASE

A bank hired a contractor to perform janitorial and snow removal services. The written contract between the parties lapsed, but they orally renewed their agreement according to the same terms. One morning, a bank employee arrived at work and parked in the parking lot. She stepped out of her car, slipped on black ice, and was injured. The employee sued the contractor, claiming that it had negligently failed to spread ice melt on the parking lot. The district court granted the contractor's motion for summary judgment, holding that the contractor owed no duty to spread ice melt on the parking lot on any day in which less than two inches of snow had fallen. The employee timely appealed to this Court.

II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

In November of 2004, Western Building Maintenance, Inc. (" Western" ) entered into a contract (the " Written Contract" ) with Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. (" Wells Fargo" ) under which Western agreed to provide janitorial and snow removal services for Wells Fargo at various locations in Idaho and Washington. The Contract, which was in effect between December 1, 2004 and November 30, 2006, included detailed " Performance Specifications" for janitorial services and snow removal. The " Snow Removal Specifications" provide in pertinent part:

1. CONTRACTOR will be responsible for managing and supervising all Snow Removal Services. CONTRACTOR will provide all necessary labor, equipment, materials and supplies needed to perform the specifications.
2. CONTRACTOR will bid Snow Removal Services to vendors pre-approved by BANK, using the specifications below:
....
b. CONTRACTOR will furnish all necessary labor, equipment, materials and supplies (with the exception of ice melt) needed to perform the conditions and specifications of Snow Removal.
c. CONTRACTOR will clear all parking areas and/or sidewalks when two (2) inches of snow has accumulated. The initial clearing will occur prior to 8:00 a.m. of each snow day.
d. Ice melt is to be used when necessary. In most cases, ice melt will be furnished by BANK. If not furnished, ice melt ...

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