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Woman cannot sue for fall into oil-change pit

Dorothy Urben sued Speedy Oil after she was injured by a fall into the oil-change pit inside the business.  She claimed that the interior of the building was dark and that coming in from the sunshine outdoors, she did not see the pit before stepping into it.  She also argued that the protective grates that were designed to protect against falls into the pit were not in place.

The Defendant (by its insurer) argued that the interior of the building was not dark; that there would still be an opening where Plaintiff would have fallen, even if the grates were utilized; and that there were floor color changes and a red metal lip around the pit to warn customers.  It urged the trial judge to dismiss the case:  it argued that a reasonable jury would be required to find that the pit was "open and obvious" and that a jury could not find  that the pit presented a high degree of danger that required the owner to take reasonable steps to guard or to warn about.

The trial judge denied the Defendant's motion for summary disposition, concluding that the case presented factual questions which by law a jury must resolve.  The Court of Appeals, in a typical Henry Saad opinion, reversed and dismissed the case.  The Court's opinion proceeded to resolve all of the factual disagreements in favor of the business and ruled that the Defendant owed no duty to guard the pit, more effectively warn the customer, or manage the pit in a different manner.

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