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A Better Partnership
February 15, 2012

COA Opinion: Claim based on fall from stage fails because of others' successful strolls across the platform

The Court of Appeals found that because several people, including plaintiff, successfully traversed a raised stage (without any guard at the back of the stage) the open and obvious risk of falling was not "effectively unavoidable." Thus, in a published opinion of Chesser v. Raddisson Plaza Hotel, authored by Judge Krause, the Court reversed the trial court's denial of Radisson's summary disposition motion seeking to defeat plaintiff's personal injury claim based on falling off the back of a stage after giving a speech at the hotel. In awarding summary disposition to the defendant the Court of Appeals concluded that, under Michigan law, the hotel only owed a duty to protect invitees from the open and obvious danger of falling off a raised stage, if that danger was "effectively unavoidable." The Court rejected the argument that the hotel owed no duty because Plaintiff could have refused to ascend the stage, and rejected the contention that because it was possible to cross the stage without falling, the risk effectively avoidable. However, the successful crossings of several people, including plaintiff, demonstrated to the Court that the "statistical fluke was [plaintiff's] fall, not the other speaker's safety." Thus, the risk of falling was not effectively unavoidable.

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