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Ramp to serve handicapped is, itself, an "open and obvious danger" so landowner owes no duty to make it safe...

It seems oxymoronic, but as interpreted by Michigan's majority of Republican Justices, an allegedly defective handicap ramp can't be a source of liability for the landowner.  Sherly Edwards alleged that she fell on Cal-Am Properties because the ramp she was using to leave the store was too steep, did not drain properly, and violated the Building Code.  She argued that it was not reasonably safe, making the retailer partially responsible for her injuries and medical expenses.

The Court of Appeals held that "handicap ramps generally constitute open and obvious damgers" and that an average user of ordinary intelligence should, on casual inspection, appreciate the danger a ramp presents.  The judges also noted that Ms. Edwards could have used the steps and avoided the ramp.  Thus, this structure built to accommodate persons with mobility issues, cannot be a source of liability for the landowner, because users should recognize its dangerous qualities and avoid it--even if it violates the building code.  An infrequent visitor should recognize its danger, but the landowner need not.
Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
309 East Front Street
Traverse City, Michigan 49684
Toll Free: 1-800-678-1307
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