Chrysler not responsible for injuries suffered at state fair storage lots
Michael McGuigan and the Accident Fund Insurance Company sued Chrysler, arguing that it should be responsible for severe injuries suffered by McGuigan (and resulting medical paid by the Accident Fund) when McGuigan was repeatedly run over by a third-party at the state fair storage lots. While the opinion recites few facts, the Court ruled against McGuigan and cited the Michigan Supreme Court's fairly recent holdings that immunize landowners from liability for the criminal acts of third parties.
Historically, a landowner could be responsible for criminal injuries suffered by an invitee to the property if the victim could prove that the landowner was negligent in failing to provide reasonable protection to invitees. Obviously, the victim was required to prove that criminal actions by a third-party were foreseeable and that the landowner failed to act in the face of evidence requiring that reasonable precautions be taken.
When the Engler-appointees captured control of Michigan's Supreme Court, they acted aggressively to eliminate this form of property-owner responsibility. They ruled that a landowner could only be responsible for failing to promptly call police in response to "specific acts taking occurring on the premises that pose a risk of imminent and foreseeable harm to an identifiable invitee." They held that "there is no general duty to anticipate and prevent criminal activity even where...there have been prior incidents..." Under the law in Michigan, now, the landowner's duty is "limited to reasonably responding" to [incidents] and "summoning police." According to the judges, "public safety is [exclusively] the business of the government..."