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Building Code violation not enough: owner owes no duty to man who fell on step

In Grillo v. Lucido, the Court of Appeals upheld the summary disposition of a fall victim's claim against the homeowner.  The injured man argued that he fell because of a step overhang that violated the Michigan Building Code and caused him to trip.  He argued that he never noticed the overhang because it was not visible from the direction he was approaching. 

The Court of Appeals "disagreed with plaintiff's arguments."  Even though the Defendant had conceded that he was an invitee, the appellate court found that he was not, and that he was owed a lesser duty as a social guest.  It dismissed the opinion of the "consulting engineer" retained by the plaintiff and ruled that in any event "evidence of a building code violation is not in itself sufficient to impose a legal duty..."  It then ruled that the 1/2 inch overhang "was visible and apparent to any person who walked up the step under normal conditions," and therefore "even considering the evidence in the light most favorable to the [non-moving] party" the case should be dismissed because the owner owed no duty to address an "open and obvious" hazard.

Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
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Traverse City, Michigan 49684
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