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Grocery store not responsible for water puddle on floor

Kathy Scott sued Kroger after slipping in a puddle of water and falling.  She claimed she did not see the puddle until after she fell.  The grocer claimed that the puddle was "open and obvious" eliminating any duty it owed to clean up the water.  The Court noted that after she fell, Scott could see the puddle.  It also noted that the Manager could discern the puddle after Scott directed his attention to it.  On that basis, the panel (which included Henry Saad, so there is no surprise in this outcome) ruled that the puddle was open and obvious "on casual inspection."

Seems to us that the process of falling and suffering injury may not automatically be denominated "casual inspection."  Years ago, Michigan law recognized that retailers make a legitimate effort to attract the attention of customers to particular retail displays and therefore the law must take this distraction into account in evaluating the safety of nearby fall hazards.  "Tort reform" has rendered this bit of consumer protection an anachronism in Michigan, in the process of re-defining "black ice" as "open and obvious." 

Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
309 East Front Street
Traverse City, Michigan 49684
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