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Woman who fell on apartment stairs cannot sue landlord

The Court of Appeals made several significant rulings while approving of the lower court's summary disposition of LaDonna Cunningham's injury claim.  Cunningham claimed she fell because of a torn section of carpet on the stairs leading to the apartment where she lived.  The Court agreed with the trial judge that she wasn't entitled to a jury trial, and held that:

1.  Since she hadn't signed the lease that her co-tenant signed, she was not entitled to any of the legal protections available to tenants under Michigan's statute requiring safe common areas.

2.  The tear in the carpet on the stairs was "open and obvious" and therefore the landlord owed no duty to repair it.

3.  Since Cunningham could have walked around the area of torn carpet, the condition was not "unavoidable" even though she had to walk the stairs to get to and from her apartment.

4.  The torn carpeting on the stairway did not present an "unreasonably dangerous condition presenting an unreasonably high risk of harm" as there was "insufficent evidence that the deteriorated carpet increase either the risk of a fall or the severity of the harm that would result..." Translation:  Insurers win, injured people lose by one excuse or another, regardless of common sense.

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