Apartment resident denied opportunity to claim that landowner was responsible for "slip and fall."
James Garland sued his landlord, "Knob in the Woods Apartments" in Oakland County Circuit Court after he fell on a walkway extending out from a concrete porch, during a winter storm. He argued that a Michigan statute which requires apartment owners to maintain common areas "fit for their intended purpose" imposed a duty on his landlord to reasonably maintain the walkway. The trial judge summarily rejected his case, but on appeal the Court of Appeals reversed. The landlord then appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court, which in turn reversed the intermediate court's holding and rejected its reasoning. This week, in conformity with the Supreme Court's decision, the Court of Appeals reinstated the summary disposition of Garland's injury claim.
It ruled that pursuant to the Supreme Court's direction, merely showing that there was ice and 1 to 2 inches of snow on the walkway did not demonstrate that the walkway was no longer fit for walking. It still met its intended purpose, which was "access" to vehicles in the parking lot. The appeals judges acknowledged that a prior decision of the Michigan Supreme Court controlled the decision in this case, and the Supreme Court left no room for a claim that ice and snow on the walk could create a cause of action.