Double amputee's negligent gas station design theory is dismissed where Court held expert's opinion insufficient
Donald Krupinski lost both legs after a motorist waiting in line in a gas station surged ahead, striking another vehicle in queue, and causing a third vehicle to strike Krupinski's vehicle. At the time, Krupinski was negotiating the gap between the vehicles on his way into the Costco station in Shelby Township of Macomb County. Krupinski's lawyers hired an expert who offered the opinion that the design of the gas "hyper-station" was partially at fault in causing the injuries. He argued that designing the station so that multiple vehicles stacked up in collinear queues (i.e., directly in line) posed an unreasonable threat of similar injuries to pedestrians. He testified that reasonable design principles would offset the vehicles so that an error by one driver would not endanger multiple pedestrian passages between vehicles.
The Court refused to allow the expert to testify and summarily dismissed the case. The Court ruled that the expert's testimony did not meet minimal requirements for establishing negligence in a property or product. It held that the expert had not adequately addressed the dangers inherent in competing designs and did not sufficiently quantify the "magnitude" of the risks associated with the Costco design. Since he could not quantify the "likelihood of occurrence," his design theory was inadmissible; further, the court held that the risk of walking between vehicles was "open and obvious" and therefore created no duty in the landowner. The case against Costco was summarily dismissed.