Estate of woman who tripped over garden hose entering Kroger can sue
Peter MaCaskill sued Kroger after his wife died from complications of a fall while entering the grocery store in Macomb County. He had driven her to the front entrance, where he dropped her off before parking the car. The elderly woman stepped out of their van, turned and took one step (according to the store's video) and tripped over a garden hose that a 16 year-old grocery bagger had draped across the entryway while watering flowers. The defendant argued that the presence of the hose was an "open and obvious" danger which Mrs. MaCaskill should have seen "on casual inspection," thereby eliminating Kroger's duty to make the hazard safe.
The trial judge rejected Kroger's motion for summary disposition. It concluded that there was a question of fact for jurors to decide whether the hose was an open and obvious hazard that the dead woman should have observed between exiting the van and falling. He pointed to the fact that the bagger had partially covered the hose with a mat, leaving only a few inches of hose exposed in the entryway. The Court of Appeals majority agreed and sustained the trial judge's refusal to grant summary disposition.
Incredibly, Judge Pat M. Donofrio would have bought the special interest Republican "party line" and summarily dismissed the dead woman's claim. In his opinion, reasonable people could not possibly conclude that the woman--who was admittedly "looking where she was going"--might not have noticed the hose "on casual inspection." Sadly, we have some judges who will totally dismiss common sense and justice in order to eliminate personal injury claims.