Beckman · Ogozalek · Paglione · Londar
Counsellors at Law

Paintworks Corporate Center, 7 Foster Avenue, Suite 201
Gibbsboro, New Jersey 08026

Toll Free: 844.BOP.6200
856.857.6262

LACK OF COMMUNICATION

C Edge Snow Services secured the account for the local outdoor shopping mall, and was ready to begin services upon the first sign of a winter storm.  The first storm of the season came in early December, but Edge was prepared.  Edge pre-treated the area, and although the storm ended up as a major snow event, the premises were in perfect shape thanks to Edge’s hard work.

When Edge submitted its invoice for services, the property manager refused to pay for the pre–treatment.  The contract was vague on whether pre-treatment was allowed, and the property manager took the position pre-treatment was not authorized.

A simple way for Edge to avoid this situation was to communicate with the property manager in advance of performing services, and obtain approval for pre-treatment.  A lack of communication, or a failure to communicate, often leads to trouble. Wilbur & Curran, a regional snow clearing company, employed 5 different vendors for snow clearing services in the southeast part of the state.  When an unexpected early winter storm hit, Wilbur & Curran were able to contact only four of their vendors. The contact information for the other vendor was not up to date, the vendor did not automatically perform services, and Wilbur & Curran lost a major client.

Communication with vendors or subcontractors surrounding storm events is crucial.  Up-to-date contact information is a necessity, as is a clear and open method for relaying information about problems encountered during storm events.

Hamill Outdoor Services left the J. Taylor College of Journalism after completing snow clearing services.  Hamill’s workers were on site for almost 13 hours, and left the location in fantastic shape.  Snow was plowed to a corner of the premises where Hamill thought there was little vehicular traffic.  Unfortunately, Hamill was not aware of drainage issue, and the following day, run off from the snow froze throughout the parking area.

Hamill needed a discussion with representatives of J. Taylor College in advance of snow clearing operations, to discuss special characteristics of the property.  If there was a conversation, Hamill would have known the appropriate location to deposit the snow, and avoid the melt and freeze on the following day.

The contract for services at C. York Outlet Shop was silent on inspection responsibility.  Cherick Snow & Ice was not instructed to return to the premises to inspect, and was not aware of a dangerous condition caused by melt and freeze.  C. York Outlet Shop was sued by an older woman, who fell on a patch of black ice.  C. York Outlet Shop joined Cherick in the lawsuit.  Simple communication between Cherick and C. York Outlet Shop would have removed any ambiguity concerning inspection responsibility, and potentially avoided a costly lawsuit.

Cesario Property Management retained Stetson Plow Company to perform services for the 2012-2013 snow season.  Stetson subcontracted services to Magill Industrial.  When Magill Industrial failed to perform services in response to the first snow of the season, Cesario terminated the contract with Stetson.  Stetson could have avoided the situation by making sure its subcontractor was prepared for services in advance of the storm, and communicating with its subcontractor during the storm, to make sure services were proceeding.  Stetson should also have communicated with Cesario during the storm, to make sure services were performed to Cesario’s satisfaction.  The lack of communication by Stetson led to a lost client.

Hoekstra Limited was a regional snow and ice company.  When Hoekstra decided to try to expand the services offered to existing clients, and try to gain new clients, it advertised extensively in trade publications.  Hoekstra gained a significant amount of business, but did not expand its administrative staff.  Keeping up with client communication during the upcoming snow season proved problematic, and Hoekstra ended up losing some of its new business.  The next season, Hoekstra had an enlarged and fully trained support staff, communications with clients ran smoothly, and Hoekstra continued to expand its operations.

Skowron Snow was instructed by the property manager, D. Cook, not to perform services. Cook wanted to save money by not servicing the property. Since accumulation was under 2 inches of snow, the automatic service clause in the contract did not trigger.

Skowron confirmed the instruction not to service via an e-mail to Cook. When suit was brought against the property manager and property owner by a man who suffered injury after slipping on snow and ice, Skowron was able to show it had no responsibility for the condition causing the slip and fall.

Although the names are changed, the above scenarios are situations I came upon during my legal practice.  Avoiding these problematic situations is simple – communicate with your clients and vendors before, during and after storm events.  You will spend less time in court, and more time focusing on the profitability and success of your company.