Question: Does an owner of property abutting have a duty to remove snow from a public street or sidewalk?
Answer: No. It is well settled in Indiana that an owner or occupant of property abutting a public street or sidewalk has no duty to clear those streets or sidewalks of ice and snow. Property owners have no duty under the common law to remove the snow from the public sidewalks, nor is a duty created by the Town of St. John ordinance that requires removal of snow and ice from sidewalks. Whether violation of a statute or ordinance gives rise to civil liability depends on whether the drafting body intended to create a “private right of action” – that is, a duty enforceable by tort law. Indiana courts have consistently held that ordinances such as that one were not enacted for the protection of individuals using the streets, but rather are for the benefit of the municipality. Moreover, the ordinance itself contains an enforcement mechanism – the town may recoup the cost of snow and ice removal from the owner of the premises abutting the sidewalk – which precludes us grafting an additional enforcement mechanism into the ordinance. Accordingly, the ordinance does not confer a private right of action that Plaintiff could enforce against Defendants under tort law.