On August 12, 2015, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued a decision in Qian v. Toll Brothers Inc., which determined that community associations are not entitled to immunity from claims of personal injury sustained on private sidewalks that comprise part of an association’s common property. In deciding Qian, the Court made clear that its 2011 decision in Luchejko v. City of Hoboken, which held that associations were immune from liability for the failure to adequately clear snow and ice from a public sidewalks, does not apply in the context of an association’s private, common property. Although the result is not surprising based on the long-standing common law concerning tort liability, it does clarify the distinction between the potential liability of a community associations for private versus public sidewalks.
As discussed in a previous blog post, in Qian a resident in an adult residential community was injured after a slip and fall on ice following a winter storm. Qian sued the association, its developer (who controlled the board), its managing agent and the contractor responsible for snow and ice removal. The Trial Court dismissed the claims against the association, developer and managing agent based in part on the decision in Luchejko.