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Friend who fell on black ice while visiting tenant's apartment is entitled to trial on the merits

Lamar Craig fell and badly fractured his ankle while walking on the sidewalk between units of the Sutton Place Apartments.  The area was very dark, and Craig's lawyers maintained that there was nothing present to warn him of the presence of the ice.  The judge, although reluctant, granted summary dismissal of his claim, citing the Supreme Court (Engler Majority's) nonsensical "open and obvious" lack-of-duty rule.  The judge pointed out that applying common sense or logic to the situation would not prevent him from being reversed if he refused to grant summary disposition. 

On appeal, the Court of Appeals pointed out that cases like Slaughter v Blarney Castle have subsequently limited the application of open and obvious, where there are no other indicators of the likely presence of ice.  On that basis, it applied the "common sense" that the trial judge was reluctant to exercise and returned the case for trial to determine whether the apartment complex exercised reasonable care in lighting and maintaining its sidewalks.  The jury will have to consider whether a reasonable person, "on casual inspection" would have noticed, and avoided the ice.

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