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Shopping center is found to have created nuisance intersection; tactics questioned; verdict not impeached.

Heather Veremis was badly hurt when the car in which she was riding was "broad-sided" by another vehicle in a shopping center.  Veremis was on her way to grab lunch with a co-worker when the accident happened.  The Gratiot Place Mall had created a blind intersection without any traffic control measures.  When Veremis' driver approached the intersection, she stopped and then attempted to inch into the intersection to look beyond vision obstructions for opposing traffic: there was snow and ice on the pavement and neither she nor the oncoming driver could avoid a severe impact.

Veremis filed suit against both drivers and the Gratiot Plaza.  The jury ruled that Veremis' injuries were caused 35% by her driver, 5% by the oncoming driver, and 60% by the obstructed and uncontrolled, and therefore unsafe, intersection, which it deemed a nuisance.  Gratiot Plaza then raised several objections to the trial judge's rulings, attempting to overturn the verdict.  It complained about an unedited transcript that its own attorney had allowed jurors to see; it complained that a juror failed to disclose his bankruptcy when the panel was asked about prior "lawsuits," it inaccurately claimed Facebook contact between a juror and the Plaintniff, and it claimed that the intersection was an "open and obvious" danger which it owed no duty to correct.

The Court of Appeals split, but upheld the lower court's rulings. Only ardent insurance advocate Christopher Murray  would have relieved the Gratiot Plaza of its responsibility.  He may well be a good predictor of what the five Republicans on the Supreme Court will do on further appeal, however.  The Court of Appeals majority ruled that the "open and obvious danger" exception to landowner liability does not apply to cases where a nuisance has been proved.  It also held that the strong-arm tactics used by the mall security police, who interviewed jurors and their neighbors, armed with pistols and handcuffs, could not properly be used to impeach a jurors' deliberations and verdict. Murray would rule that a land possessor owes no duty to alleviate a nuisance that is "apparent to a casual observer."
Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
309 East Front Street
Traverse City, Michigan 49684
Toll Free: 1-800-678-1307
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