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Michigan residents are on notice of black ice, but commercial premises' owners are not

Michigan's courts have recently expanded the "open and obvious" exception to the landowner's duty to maintain a safe business, so that anyone who has lived a winter in Michigan is deemed to be aware of the existence of "black ice."  As a result, even though it is invisible, by definition, it is deemed "open and obvious" and the landowner is not held responsible for any injury that results from a negligent failure to take reasonable steps to address the condition.

In the recent Crippen v. 5 Star Lanes, Inc., case, the court went a step further:  it held that while the plaintiff was on notice of the icy condition, the defendant--who owed a theoretical duty to inspect its premises for safety problems--was not.  The "general awareness" that ice could form in winter conditions--particularly after salting--is enough to put an invited visitor on notice, but not enough to hold a business accountable.

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