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Court dismisses another injury claim arising out of a fall

In Tyro v. Builders Association of Southeastern Michigan, the Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of Ms. Tyro's injury claim.  Tyro was seriously hurt when she tripped over electical cables lying on the floor between booths at a home improvement show.  There were factual disputes over whether the cables were under a cover with yellow sides, but in any event Tyro admitted she wasn't looking at the floor and did not see the cables or the cover. 

On the basis of her failure to see the cables which were in plain sight, the Engler Majority's re-definition of the "open and obvious" doctrine left Tyro no claim to pursue:  the Engler Majority re-wrote premises liability law to wipe out any duty on the part of a landowner to eliminate hazards that an invited visitor might have seen "on casual inspection." 

In the past, [and today in other states] Michigan law took into account the circumstances surrounding the visitor and the degree of hazard presented by an unsafe condition, and held the landowner to a duty to maintain a reasonably safe property:  this duty would be weighed against the comparative fault of the injured visitor and the visitor could collect only for the landowner's share of fault--if it exceeded the visitor's fault.

Conservatives have flailed at supposed judicial activism by "liberal judges" for years, but the re-making of the "open and obvious" doctrine to immunize landowners from any duty to eliminate admitted hazards, simply because they could have been identifed by a visitor, is a sweeping change in the law--effected by judicial fiat and without public consideration. 

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