Michigan Supreme Court Hears Case of Woman Killed in Parking Lot

Michigan Supreme Court Hears

Michigan’s Supreme Court ruled on a personal injury case involving Virginia Rawluszki, who was killed when hit by a truck in a parking lot of a Menard’s home improvement store. The court unanimously decided to leave the appeals court decision in place and have them try the case with a jury, or reach a settlement. The family of the deceased asserts that the retailer should have installed stop signs at a crosswalk they created in the lot. The defense says that the risks associated with walking through a parking lot are clearly “open and obvious”, a standard in Michigan premises liability law.

Rawluszki was walking on a crosswalk marked with yellow lines when a driver of a pickup truck recklessly cut through a parking space and struck her. She sustained an injury to the brain and later died. The driver, also a named defendant in the case, had already reached a settlement with Rawluszki’s daughter. Defense attorneys stated that moving vehicles are a reality in parking lots to reasonable people and motioned for a summary disposition, which both courts previously denied.

Two issues were ordered by The Supreme Court in the case. First, if the crosswalk that Menard’s had implemented in the parking lot was a “special aspect” which created liability? The other is if the conditions are not unreasonably dangerous, could a special aspect exist? The defense’s motion for summary disposition was based on two statutes:

MCR 2.116(C) 8: Is the complaint legally sufficient to determine that relief can be granted?
MCR 2.116(C)(10): The court may consider evidence including documents, & depositions to test if a complaint is sufficient. This is appropriate when there is “no genuine issue as to any material fact.”

The appeals court found the landowner created a duty when they installed the crosswalk. They suggested that with only ground markings, the crosswalk actually made the conditions more dangerous. Ordinarily, a landowner would not have a duty to warn or protect from traffic-related dangers in this obvious situation. The defense argued that the cause of the accident was the negligence of the driver of the vehicle. The court found that the defendant intentionally created the crosswalk as a safety feature on the property; and thus, it was a special aspect, meaning that a duty of care is owed. By using the crosswalk, the plaintiff believed she was acting in the best interest of her own safety. The defendant was aware (or should have been) that the crosswalk would give pedestrians the feeling that it was safe to use. The outcome in the appeals court will be dependent on a decision by a jury on whether the crosswalk was a cause for the injury.

Has someone’s negligent or careless behavior made you an injury victim? The accident attorneys at the Law Firm of Jeremy Rosenthal seeks rightful compensation in Colorado cases involving personal injury and wrongful death. Contact the office at (303) 825-2229 for a free consultation.

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