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Woman survives summary disposition after fall in public building

Minga Perkins sued Henry Ford Community College after she suffered a fall on a starway at the College.  Her case was summarily dismisssed by the trial judge after the College argued it was entitled to immunity from negligence becasue it is a governmental entity.  She appealed, arguing that the Judge misapplied the public building exception to immunity which should have allowed her to sue.

On appeal, the Court noted that Perkins fell after her foot slipped in an area of chipped edging on the steps.  She could not tell which area of chipping depicted in photos of the steps caused her to fall, and the Trial Court had ruled that on that basis she could not prove causation.  The Court of Appeals reversed.  The panel of judges pointed out that there was "unquestionably" a problem of wear on the steps and Perkins' testimony documented a reasonable claim that this caused her fall.  It should be up to jurors to determine the credibility of her claim.  Judge Whitbeck, a staunch Republican selected to the Court, dissented and would have summarily dismissed the claim.  He would rely upon the College's maintenance people's testimony that the steps were not in "disrepair." 

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