Natural accumulations of ice and snow occurring outdoors on various steps and walkways present several different issues relating to the landowner’s liability for slip and fall injuries. Currently, there is split of authority as to whether the occupier of premises owes any duty whatsoever to invitees with respect to the removal of purely natural accumulations of snow and ice. The “no duty” position was originally favored by courts regarding the landlord’s duty toward tenants and invitees injured on leased property. Known as the “Massachusetts rule,” this doctrine continues to be applied today, not only with respect to landlords, but to ordinary landowners and occupants as well. The apparent rationale for this rule is that hazards created by such natural accumulations are equally as open and obvious to the entrant as to the landowner or occupant of the premises, as well as the sheer impracticalities of enforcing such an affirmative obligation.
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