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Tenant cannot sue landlord for fall on defective sidewalk

This week the Court of Appeals held that Amanda Fletcher could not sue the Knollwood Village Associates, her landlord, for a fall that occurred on that apartment complex's sidewalk.  She provided proof that the area of the fall, a common area, contained a dirt-covered depression over half the width of the sidewalk.  The Court held that the Michigan statute requiring the landlord to keep the premises "in reasonable repair" did not create a duty to Ms. Fletcher.  Basing its decision on recent cases by the Republican Majority of the Michgian Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals held that the statute doesn't require the landlord to maintain an "ideal" condition or keep the property in "the most accessible condition possible."  The Court held that it "must ascertain whether there could be reasonable differences of opinion regarding whether the walk was fit for its intended purpose of reasonable access" and concluded that "reasonable minds could not disagree that it was fit for the use intended."

These decisions were once considered entirely within the province of the jury:  if half a slab of sidewalk was depressed and covered with dirt (and obviously neglected) it was THE JURY'S JOB to decide if it was "reasonable."  Today, under Republican, pro-insurance guidance, these cases are regularly dismissed without jury input, regardless of how neglected they are.

Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
309 East Front Street
Traverse City, Michigan 49684
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