Court reiterates recent conclusion that merchants owe no duty to enforce safety rules or provide security
Terrance Wade and Anthony Gray were shot by an armed guard hired to provide protection at a private party. The guard inexplicably erupted and began firing into the crowd at 2 a.m., hitting the plaintiffs and two others. Wade and Gray sued the owner of the hall leased for the party and also the party sponsors. The lessor sought summary disposition, arguing that it owed no duty to provide any form of security or to enforce its safety rules.
The victims argued that since the owner kept an agent on premises to supervise the party, the lessor could be held responsible for not acting reasonably to maintain the safety of invited guests. The trial judge granted summary disposition and the Court of Appeals upheld this outcome on appeal. It noted that in several recent decisions, Michigan's Supreme Court majority has ruled that "crimes are inherently unpredictable;" that "one may assume that others will refrain from committing criminal acts;" that "imposing a duty [to provide security] is against the public interest;" that "a merchant's duty of reasonable care does not include providing armed, visible guards to deter criminal acts;" and that recognizing any such duty would "contravene public policy" by "advocating that members of the public resort to self-help." While several of these propositions appear contradictory and debatable, at least, they seem laughable given the recent effort by the same political party to allow citizens to "resort to self-help" by carrying concealed weapons in virtually all environments. Perhaps Republicans wish to "discourage self help" only where insurance companies would be forced to pay the resulting cost.