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Man who slips when public restroom mat slides cannot pursue claim over "obvious" hazard

Kenneth Klimek went to use the urinal in the public restroom at the MS Plaza, during a break in a meeting to which he was invited.  He had stepped on a rubberized urinal mat which he had noticed at prior meetings.  Although he knew the mat was not fastened to the floor and was not precisely in its "normal" location, he did not think it would slide on the tile floor.  It did; he fell; and he was hurt.  He brought a premises liability action against the owner.

The trial judge summarily dismissed his case because he noticed the mat wasn't in its normal place and therefore should have recognized it was an "open and obvious hazard."  The Michigan Supreme Court has expanded an exception to the landowner's duty to business invitees, so that they no longer owe any duty--reasonable or otherwise--to address any hazard that a visitor might have noticed on casual inspection.

Klimek appealed, arguing that simply because the mat was out of place did not make it an obvious danger to step on.  To her credit, Judge Kathleen Jansen agreed with Klimek, concluding that a rubber bathroom mat is not an obvious danger that a reasonable person would recognize on casual inspection.  The other two judges followed the Michigan Supreme Court lead and upheld the summary dismissal of Klimek's lawsuit.

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