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Woman who fell entering gas station cannot sue for "open and obvious" slippery floor

Kathryn Sall slipped and fell while entering the Next Door gas station in Kent County.  She fractured her ankle, requiring surgery.  She attempted to sue Next Door, arguing that it had not adequately addressed the slippery tile floor at the entrance to the gas station.  She argued there was a foreign substance on the floor in addition to water.

Next Door pointed to the fact that Sall had lived in Michigan for 45 years and knew the normal Michigan weather conditions for January created tracked-in ice and snow.  Therefore, the insurer attorneys argued, the hazard was "open and obvious" and the gas station owed no duty to correct or address it.   The Court of Appeals upheld the trial judge's summary disposition of the claim, holding that a "reasonable" customer "on casual inspection" would have noticed the weather, the wet tile floor, and the one foot gap between the entryway and the rug placed before it, and would have avoided the "open and obvious" danger.

The Court also held that the entryway was not "unavoidable" so as to avoid the operation of the "open and obvious danger" rule, because she chose to "avail herself of the [store's] services."  In addition, the store had an alternative entrance that she chose not to use.  One judge of the Court refused to join the majority holding, apparently disagreeing with the rationale offered for granting summary disposition.

Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
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Traverse City, Michigan 49684
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