Woman injured during terminal escalator renovation cannot sue Northwest Airlines for unsafe premises
Elizabeth Banaszak was badly hurt when she fell and became entangled in the machinery of an airport escalator at Metro Airport. An employee of a subcontractor engaged in repairs, Banaszak filed suit against Otis Elevator, the Hunt Construction Group and Northwest Airlines, arguing that each of these entities had contributed to the condition that caused her injuries. Her attorneys were required to name each potentially "at-fault" entity because Michigan has almost eliminated "joint and several" or "deep-pocket" liability--leaving the victim to bear the loss associated with any at-fault who is underinsured, under-capitalized or unavailable. Banaszak's case made it to the Michigan Supreme Court this week, where the more moderate Court [after conservative activist Clifford Taylor lost his bid for re-election] reversed two lower court decisions that had been decided in favor of injured plaintiffs.
In Banaszak's case, the Court held, without much explication, that she could not sue Northwest Airlines alleging that the premises were not reasonably safe. Since the injury occurred during construction activities, Northwest could be sued in its role as general contractor, but only if Banaszak could prove that Northwest retained control of the construction site and failed to act to protect subcontractor's employees in the "common work area."