Woman who tripped over mis-placed serving tray leg cannot sue
Bonnie Campbell went back to the buffet table at the Marquette Holiday Inn once too often at Sunday Brunch. On the way back to her table with both hands full, she tripped over the leg of a serving tray that protruded into the aisle. She said she did not see the leg until after she fell. Her attorneys argued that the spindly leg was not "open and obvious"--particularly to someone carrying food, and that in any event, the wait staff was negligent in temporarily storing the tray so that a leg intruded into the aisle.
The Court pointed out that under prior activist Michigan Supreme Court decisions, it doesn't matter if an employee was negligent or if the protruding table leg was a temporary, non-fixture condition: the action is one for premises liability and the premises owner/possessor owes not duty for employee negligence....or to eliminate "open and obvious" hazards. Further, since the leg could be seen from some vantage points on casual inspection, it was "open and obvious" whether Campbell saw it or not.