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Tenant cannot sue absent landlord for failing to secure snow removal

Beverly Stevenson and her husband rented a home from a couple named Jolliffe who had moved to Indiana. The Jolliffes agreed to pay for snow removal.  When Muskegon County got six inches of snow in a day, Ms. Stevenson got stuck in the lower end of the driveway and called the Jolliffes for advice:  they recommended calling Anderson Lawn Maintenance.  The latter agreed to come plow the driveway, and Ms. Stevenson descended the driveway with the intent of moving her car to facilitate plowing.  On the way, however, she fell in an icy rut and suffered a severe ankle injury.  When she sued the owners, however, the Court pointed out that since they had moved to Indiana and were no longer in possession of the land, they could not be responsible for Stevenson's injury.  The Court ruled that a defective "premises" claim required that the defendant have the power to prevent the injury--meaning control and possession.  It also held that Stevenson was barred by the "open and obvious" doctrine because the injury she suffered was not "unavoidable."

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