Schedule a Consultation | Toll Free: 1-800-678-1307
Trial lawyers specializing in personal injury and civil litigation

Start by proving there was no "wetness-free path" by which you could have left

  We should start hiring comedians to write Michigan judicial opinions.  Only a comedian could write this material with a straight face.  This month, the Court of Appeals held that a woman who fell while leaving a restaurant couldn't sue over her injuries, because she didn't prove that there was no "wetness-free path" she could have  taken to leave.

        The woman's lawyer presented excellent pictorial and testimonial evidence showing that the wet floor was only visible if it was back-lit creating a glare on the wet tile flooring.  Architects will confirm that this evidence accurately describes one characteristic of light placement:  it will only illuminate ice or other slippery substances if it is strategically placed to reflect to the viewers eye.  The woman who fell claimed that the spilled liquid was present on the floor long enough that the restaurant had actual notice of its danger and a duty to alleviate the problem:  she and her lawyer felt that a jury question was created regarding McDonald's duty to either clean the floor or warn of the spilled liquid.

The Court held that the woman's claim could not go to the jury because the restaurant owed no duty to clean up the spill.  The Court held that the spill would have been visible to a casual observer, and refused to consider the woman's evidence to the contrary because she couldn't document precisely how wet the floor was when she fell.  The court then rejected her claim that she had no safe way to leave the restaurant, because she never proved that there was no "wetness-free path" by which she could have left.  Somehow, we have converted a simple, common sense issue of responsibility to clean your floors to make them safe for customers---and a customer's relative fault in exercising care for his or her own safety--into a ludicrous exposition on absurd and unrealistic "legalistic" principles.  We use the term "legalistic principles" not in the sense of educated, wise, principled or logical, but rather in the sense of an arcane and doctrinal use of legal buzz-words intended to obfuscate and distract from a meaningful search for common sense truth.

Your floor was slick and presented extra risk for your customers?  How long was it that way?  Why didn't you clean it up or set out a warning?  And you, lady, were you looking where you were walking?  What did you see?  A jury can handle these issues and it appears they would handle them better than our well-paid judges do.  This is the kind of hokey-poke that gives judges, courts and lawyers a bad name and diminishes respect for the court system generally.

Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
309 East Front Street
Traverse City, Michigan 49684
Toll Free: 1-800-678-1307
Fax: 231-929-7262