Court of Appeals overturns trial judge; grants summary disposition against woman who fell on ice
Linda Ceaser sued Saied Gouma and Salah Zoma after she fell on ice while entering a home beauty parlor owned by the defendants. She suffered a compound fracture of her left leg, and she claimed that the landlord-owners had violated their contractual and common law duty to maintain the brick walkway leading to the front porch of the home. She argued that she fell on black ice that collected on the walkway as a result of a roof downspout and that the Defendants were negligent in allowing this condition to exist as a hazard to customers. She also cited a report of the building inspector documenting other contributing defects in the walkway which consituted building code violations.
Conservative Court of Appeals judges including Richard Boonstra overturned the trial judge's decision and granted the defendants summary disposition of the injury case. They held that whether or not she saw the ice, Ceaser was injured as a result of an "open and obvious" hazard which the landlord/owners owed no statutory or common law duty to correct. Since the home had been rented to the beauty shop operator, the landlords were not in possession and owed no duty to correct hazards--even if the hazards were of their own making; even if the hazards violated the applicable building code; and even if the landlord has violated a duty owed to the tenant.