When roof ladder detaches, injury victim must still prove the defect causing the fall
Richard Bouma was badly hurt when he fell while climbing to the roof of a structure owned by Bravogrand, Inc. and Bison Realty in Kent County. Bouma proved that he fell when two bolts holding the ladder to the roof of the structure gave way and allowed Bouma and the ladder to collapse. Two judges of the Court of Appeals (Judges O'Connell and Owens) upheld a directed verdict against Bouma when he failed to prove why the bolts gave out. They suggested that he had not proved that he was not the cause of the failure. In dissent, Judge Shapiro pointed out that the explanation for the event was more available to the landowner than to Bouma, and therefore a jury could reasonably conclude that the owner--who failed to produce the ladder or the report of why it failed--was responsbile. Shapiro would have applied the legal doctrine of res ipso loquitur.