Victim of fall in parking lot can sue paver for negligence
Michigan Paving and Materials Co. contracted to re-pave the Owosso Wal Mart's parking lot. The store did not close while the work was being done. Helen Schoch fell and fractured a bone in her foot when she stepped on the seam where new asphalt ended creating a drop-off. Although Schoch estimated the drop-off as approximately two inches in height, an employee of Defendant claimed it was less than one inch. The trial court deemed the drop-off "open and obvious" and dismissed Schoch's claim. The Court of Appeals reversed. The appellate court noted that since the defendant did not have possession and control of the parking lot, Schoch's claim was for negligence rather than for premises liability, and therefore the "open and obvious" doctrine did not apply to eliminate the defendant's duty. The jury will have to determine whether the paving company was negligent in creating an unsafe condition that caused Schoch's fall.