Woman's slip and fall case against daughter's apartment complex is summarily dismissed
Ruth Patterson sued the Knollwood Village Associates Limited Partnership after she fell on ice in the parking lot. It was dark and there were no overhead lights, and Ms. Patterson said she stepped on the slant of the curb and slipped and fell. The court's opinion repeatedly raised the issue that she was familiar with Michigan winter weather in justifying its decision that the ice where she fell was an "open and obvious danger" which the apartment complex owed no duty to address.
The Court suggested that a reasonable person who saw snow on the ground would not "ignore" the dangers of a "snowy, and perhaps icy" parking lot, and would not have stepped out of her car at her daughter's apartment; that a reasonable person would instead have "foreseen the danger and made a different decision." Perhaps if she wanted to see her daughter in the winter, she should have moved them both to Florida. Maybe she should have flown from her car to the apartment. Or better yet, hired Two Men and a Truck to meet her and transport her from the car to the apartment.
This bizarre opinion goes on to chastise the woman for describing the hazard as a parking lot curb hidden within a snow bank, pointing out that she must have known the curb was present because she had visited her daughter's apartment "once or twice a month" previously that year. To his credit, one judge refused to sign the opinion which was most likely authored by the insurer's best friend, Christopher M. Murray. Frankly, the majority opinion is an insult to common sense: reasonable Michigan residents must and do encounter snow on a daily basis during the winter; they do not, as a common practice refuse to exit their cars because there is snow in sight. And the fact that Michigan residents know that where there is ice, there may also be snow should not excuse a landlord from owing a REASONABLE DUTY to clear ice and snow.