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Low Light and Black Ice Does Not Avoid Open and Obvious

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Michigan Supreme Court ruling reinforces open and obvious doctrine in black ice case.

Business and premises owners recently received some good news from the Michigan Supreme Court.

On April 14, the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Ragnoli v North Oakland-North Macomb Imaging, Inc. that:

“notwithstanding low lighting in the parking lot, the presence of wintry weather
conditions and of ice on the ground elsewhere in the premises rendered the
risk of a black ice patch “open and obvious such that a reasonably prudent
person would foresee the danger” of slipping and falling in the parking lot.”

In rendering its decision in Ragnoli, the Supreme Court reversed a previously unpublished Michigan Court of Appeals ruling, which had reversed the trial court’s granting of a motion for summary disposition indicating that there were questions of fact as to whether the black ice was open and obvious given evidence of poor lighting.

While premises owners must always maintain safe conditions, the Supreme Court’s ruling reinforces the notion that ice and snow are open and obvious during cold and wintry seasons.

Tags: Open & Obvious Doctrine, Premises Liability

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