Court reaffirms that apartment complex owed no duty to remove snow or address "black ice."
Renee Young fell in the parking lot of the Michigan Tree Apartments in Macomb County. She suffered a badly fractured leg and claimed that the apartment complex violated both the common law and a Michigan statute requiring an apartment lessor to maintain premises in a reasonably safe condition. She argued that the dark lot was a "sea of ice" that was not identifiable because the only overhead light was not functioning.
The Court of Appeals referred to recent decisions by the Michigan Supreme Court that rejected any duty by an apartment complex to address natural accumulations of ice and snow. Since the fall occurred in February in Michigan, the black ice on the dark parking lot was "open and obvious" to the injured woman, even if she didn't and couldn't see it. He duty of "casual inspection" should have made her aware of the danger, even if she couldn't see it, because she had lived at least one winter in Michigan, and therefore the landlord owed no duty to make the lot reasonably safe.
The three judges ruled that "..our Supreme Court has held that this type of icy condition is not unreasonably dangerous...and the statute requiring a landlord to maintain "all common areas fit for the use intended...to keep the premises in reasonable repair...and to comply with applicable health and safety laws..." imposes no duty on the landlord to address issues of snow and ice in a parking lot.