Court reverses trial judge; grants summary disposition to University after door failure
Verna DeMartin was leaving the University of Michigan Dental School when she was knocked down by the automatic door. Her daughter had preceded her into the doorway, activating the door. It closed before DeMartin could make her way through, striking her on the shoulder and knocking her to the ground. She attempted to make a claim against the University for her injuries. The University's attorneys sought summary disposition, but the trial judge ruled that there was a genuine issue of material fact that required trial.
The University appealed and hit the jackpot with insurer-friendly, anti-victim judges. The Court of Appeals panel issued its opinion on May 19, reversing the trial judge and dismissing the case. It related that the door-closing mechanism had been replaced "in February or March" prior to the April, 2012, incident, because it "was slamming and had nearly hit two people over the course of three days." Nevertheless, because the plaintiff and her daughter could not confirm that there was a remaining defect in the door that caused the injury, DeMartin's case was summarily dismissed. The higher court held that the "true explanation of events is not more accessible to the defendant" and that, in any event, DeMartin had failed to prove that the University had notice that the door was malfunctioning.