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Trial lawyers specializing in personal injury and civil litigation

Decaying fruit and decaying rights

When Denise Grzesiak showed up at the radio station to claim her husband's prize, she was confronted by an entryway sidewalk awash in rotting apples from a nearby tree.  The station had made no effort to remove the rotting fruit.  She fell and suffered serious injuries.  The Court held that the owner of the property owed her--and the other visitors to the station--no duty to keep the entryway reasonably clean and safe.

In another manifestation of the Supreme Court's abuse of the "open and obvious" doctrine, the Court of Appeals judges were obligated to rule that Grzesiak could not recover for her injuries because she wasn't "trapped" by the falling apples and could have merely stayed away, once she had a chance to see the rotting fruit.  While this makes good sense from a "warning" standpoint (that is, she should be able to claim that she wasn't warned of the danger) it makes no sense from the standpoint of a landowner's duty to keep his property safe.

Why should a business that invites people to its property owe NO duty to keep the property safe?  Wouldn't it make better sense to expect that the radio station should spent 20 minutes each day for a few weeks cleaning the rotting fruit, rather than gambling that no one visiting the station will be hurt by it? If it is really a "danger" that visitors should recognize and avoid, shouldn't the owner owe SOME DUTY  to recognize and clean it?

This is another example of activist Republican Supreme Court justices elevating property rights above the rights of consumers and victims, regardless of logic or fairness and the "decay" of personal rights in Michigan.  We hope that it doesn't take too many years for the  pendulum to swing back to a reasonable balancing of personal and property rights:  we are pretty sure that a vast majority of citizens would reject the concept that a property owner owes no duty to make his public property safe for the visitors he invites.  And what's more, what are people's liability insurance premiums ultimately for, if not to compensate legitimate claims?

Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
309 East Front Street
Traverse City, Michigan 49684
Toll Free: 1-800-678-1307
Fax: 231-929-7262