What is the De Minimis Rule?
There are several nuances to premises cases, especially trip and fall cases caused by defective pavements. One of the nuances to a premises case is the de minimis rule. Under the de minimis rule, liability for the defendant generally attaches for sidewalk defects approaching two inches in height. Birch v. City of Quincy, 241 Ill. App. 3d 119, 121 (1993), Harris v. Old Kent Bank, 315 Ill. App. 3d 894, 900 (2000). Courts are hesitant to find a defendant liable for sidewalk or pavement deviations less than two inches in height because the de minimis rule was originally intended to protect [defendants] from the burden of having to monitor and maintain great lengths of sidewalk in perfect condition. Id.
“Whether a height variance between two sidewalk slabs is de minimis depends on all of the pertinent facts, and there is no simple standard to separate de minimis defects from actionable ones. St. Martin v. First Hospitality Group, Inc., 2014 IL App (2d) 130505 ¶14 (quoting Arvidson v. City of Elmhurst, 11 Ill. 2d 601, 604 (1957)). Illinois has held that, although a displacement of two inches in a residential area is actionable, a variation of only 1 1/8 inches is de minimis. Id. However, the de minimis rule’s application depends upon multiple factors, such as heavy foot traffic, distractions, and congestion. Id. at ¶ 19. Continue reading