Appellate judges affirm judge's holding that Menards may owe duty to sign pedestrian crosswalk
Virginia Rawluszki was struck by a car as she left the store entrance of the Bay County Menards. She suffered a head injury that ultimately proved fatal. Her family filed a lawsuit against the driver and also against the store. The family supported the lawsuit against Menards with an affidavit from an expert confirming that the pedestrian crosswalk outside the entrance was inadequately signed and therefore unsafe. Menards sought summary disposition, arguing that it owed no duty to shoppers because the danger of being struck by a car in the parking lot was "open and obvious." The trial judge weighed the evidence and denied summary judgment, holding that a reasonable jury could conclude that the entryway pedestrian crosswalk was not reasonably safe. Menards appealed.
The intermediate Court of Appeals denied Menard's right to an intermediate appeal, but the Supreme Court overturned that decision and demanded that the intermediate court hear arguments on Menard's appeal. After doing so, this week the Court affirmed the lower court judgment and sent the case back for a jury trial. The appellate judges ruled that the family's evidence, including the expert's opinions, raised a genuine issue of material fact with regard to whether Menard's pedestrian crossing created an "illusion of safety" and was in fact unsafe because the signage was inadequate. We'll see if that judgment withstands a further appeal by Menards to the special interest-dominated, highly anti-victim majority of Michigan's Supreme Court.