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Municipalities responsible for maintaining sidewalks

(2/23/04) - Pennsylvania municipalities are responsible for the maintenance of public sidewalks abutting state highways and may be liable for injuries occurring on those sidewalks, the state Supreme Court has ruled in Walker v. City of Philadelphia. In the opinion decided on Feb. 18, 2004, the Court reversed the Commonwealth Court’s opinion that the City of Philadelphia is immune from liability under Section 8542(b)(7) of the Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act, 42 Pa.C.S. § 8541 et seq.

“Because we find that the municipality is responsible for sidewalks within the municipality, irrespective of state ownership of the roadway, we reverse,” wrote Justice Ronald D. Castille for the majority. Chief Justice Ralph J. Cappy and Justices J. Michael Eakin, William H. Lamb, Russell M. Nigro, and Thomas Saylor joined Castille. Justice Sandra Shultz Newman filed a dissenting opinion. Former Chief Justice Stephen A. Zappala did not participate in the decision.

A copy of the majority and dissenting opinions may be viewed by going to the Supreme Court’s web site.

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