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Claim arising out of fall in hotel bathtub is reinstated

Colin Bielby alleged that he suffered injury when the non-skid mat in the bottom of his hotel room bathtub slid out from under him.  He claimed that the mat appeared moldy and that when he leaned against the shower/tub wall while showering, the mat slid across the bottom of the tub, causing him to fall.  The trial court had dismissed his claim, holding that the danger was "open and obvious" and that Bielby's action in leaning against the wall, while showering, was so unreasonable as to relieve the hotel of any responsibility.

On appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed the lower court and reinstated the claim.  It held that while the risk of slipping on a tub floor is "open and obvious," the risk of a non-skid mat slipping on the tub is not.  It is a question of fact for the jury to assess whether that is, indeed, what occurred; whether the hotel had notice of the deterioration of the mat; and where fault should be allocated. 

Bielby attempted to claim a violation of statute by arguing that the moldy floor mat violated statutory provisions requiring owners of "multiple dwellings" to maintain floor and wall surfaces adjacent to plumbing fixtures in a sanitary condition.  Since Bielby had not claimed that he was injured by an unsanitary surface, the statutes he cited were inapplicable to his claim.

Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
309 East Front Street
Traverse City, Michigan 49684
Toll Free: 1-800-678-1307
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