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Court rules ladder defect is "obvious" to volunteer but not to owner: injury case dismissed

In one of the more blatant injustices perpetrated on an injury victim in recent years, the Court of Appeals recently ruled that a church volunteer could not seek damages arising from a fall from an extension ladder.  Martin Meier was given a 20' extension ladder by his minister to use in removing banners from the church's gymnasium.  The ladder slipped causing him to fall nearly 20' and suffer serious injuries.  It turned out that the ladder slipped on the gym floor because it lacked anti-skid rubber pads on the ladder feet.

In a most improbable ruling, the Court held that the lack of the small rubbler pads was an "open and obvious danger" that Meier should have observed "on casual inspection."  At the same time, the Court also ruled that "there is no evidence that the Church know of or had reason to know that the ladder lacked antiskid rubber pads..."  So, the long-time owner and user of the ladder owed no duty to recognize what was deemed to be an "open and obvious" flaw that the one-time volunteer was legally obligated to observe immediately upon presentation of the ladder.  The Court went on to hold that the injured man should have heeded the warning on the ladder to "inspect for damaged or missing parts," even though the owner owed no duty to have discovered the "readily apparent risk."

Amazing.  Reminds one of Orwell.  Logic and justice suspended and an outcome justified by mindless blather.  The opinion is an embarassment to the MIchigan Bar and our judiciary.

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