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Woman who suffered head injury in fall cannot sue restaurant or contractor

Linda Gerzanics fell on her way into the Boston Market in Waterford.  She suffered a head injury and sued the restaurant, the owner of the Plaza where it was located, and the company hired to clear snow and ice, after the restaurant claimed that these parties were at fault in causing the fall.   Gerzanics claimed that she fell on a small mound of excess salt or sand, and the restaurant manager claimed that it was not uncommon for the contractor to "smash the windows" of the restaurant with salt while cleaning the lot.

The trial court dismissed Gerzanics' claim against all parties, and this decision was upheld by the appellate court.  The higher court deemed it "pure conjecture" that the cause of Gerzanics' fall was a mound of salt that she claimed to feel under her jacket.  It also held that the responding EMT's statement that he almost fell on excessive salt was inadmissible hearsay that the victim could not rely upon to prove her claim.  With respect to the company hired to clear the lot, the Court was constrained to dismiss Gerzanics' claim of negligence, because any hazard it created was not a "new" hazard under Engler Majority analysis:  in agreeing to clear the lot of snow and ice, by Engler-Majority analysis the contractor assumed no duty to third-parties and owed a duty only under the contract to the contracting landowner.  By implication, its duty to act reasonably for the safety of persons invited to use the lot was "wiped out" by its contract with the owner.
Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
309 East Front Street
Traverse City, Michigan 49684
Toll Free: 1-800-678-1307
Fax: 231-929-7262