Rare win for slip and fall victim
Sandra Nyland suffered a torn rotator cuff when she fell while entering the KMart in Muskegon. She had stepped on the sidewalk outside the doorway when she lost her footing in what looked to be a small pile of dirt or layer of sand. She and the store manager confirmed that there was an ice slick under the sand which was not visible on approach. The manager also confirmed that the store had exhausted its salt on the day of the fall. The trial court dismissed Nyland's claim, ruling the KMart owed no duty to address the ice patch on the sidewalk because it was an "open and obvious" danger.The Court of Appeals overturned the lower court's holding. It pointed out that there was no evidence of snow and ice elsewhere in the area, and that the ice had accumulated near a downspout. Given the circumstances, and the lack of warning of icy conditions, it was not apparent to a casual observer that stepping on a patch of dirt would result in a fall on ice.