13 WTHR Indianapolis
I started thinking more about the legality of the sidewalk ordinance. First, a sidewalk is always: 1) in the road right-of-way; or 2) a public easement on the owner's property Regarding the former, there definitely would not be a duty of the property owner to clear the sidewalk as that is not even the owner's property. Regarding the latter, the property owner wouldn't be responsible for an "act of God" created by snow or even third party pushing snow up onto a sidewalk while plowing the streets. The prohibition is only on the property owner interfering with the use of the easement, not third parties or God.
It turns out that the Court of Appeals agrees. In 2002, in the case of Lawson v. Lafayette Home Hospital, Inc., 760 NE 2d 1126, 1129 (Ind. App. 2002), the Court of Appeals stated:
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 and sidewalks of ice and snow. Hirschauer v. C & E Shoe Jobbers, Inc., 436 N.E.2d 107, 110-11 (Ind.Ct.App. 1982) (citations omitted). Additionally, municipal ordinances that require abutting owners or occupiers to remove snow and ice from public sidewalks do not, as a matter of law, create a duty under which an owner or occupier can be held liable to third party pedestrians. Carroll v. Jobe, 638 N.E.2d 467, 471 (Ind.Ct.App.1994), trans. denied; Hirschauer, 436 N.E.2d at 111 (citations omitted)....In 2007, the Court of Appeals dealt directly with Indianapolis sidewalk snow remvoal ordinance. In that case, Denison Parking, Inc. v. Davis, 861 NE 2d 1276, 120 (Ind. App. 2007), the Court of Appeals again said a municipality cannot use an ordinance to impose on a property owner a duty to clear a sidewalk from ice and snow. Channel 6 covered the story back in 2007.
The reason Indianapolis is not enforcing the sidewalk snow removal ordinance is that the City can't.