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May 24, 2017

MSC grants MOAA to consider scope of landlord’s statutory duty to ensure that internal stairways are “fit for the use intended by the parties” and in “reasonable repair”

In Martin v. Milham Meadows, No.154360, the Michigan Supreme Court granted mini-oral argument as to whether reasonable minds could differ regarding whether an internal stairway, which was overly slippery because of the paint applied, was fit for its intended use and kept in reasonable repair. 

After Michael Martin slipped on the internal basement stairs in his rented townhouse, he sued his apartment complex and its management company, asserting that they breached their duties under MCL 554.139 to ensure that the stairs were fit for their intended use and to keep the stairs in reasonable repair.  The trial court dismissed Martin’s complaint, finding that, given Martin’s familiarity with the stairs, there was no question of fact as to whether the stairs were unfit, kept in reasonable repair, or so unreasonably dangerous to avoid the open and obvious doctrine.  The Court of Appeals reversed as to Martin’s statutory claims, holding that reasonable minds could differ regarding whether Martin’s basement stairway was appropriate for everyday use given its inherent slipperiness.  Specifically, the court noted that “[w]hile ice and snow are expected conditions in a parking lot during a Michigan winter, interior stairways are intended to provide safe and secure access from one level of a building to another.”

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