Appeal Success: Giroux Pappas Attorney Matt Klakulak Secures Significant Victory in Premises Liability Case
Matt Klakulak, the Director of Appellate Practice at Giroux Pappas, recently mentioned in Michigan Lawyers Weekly, achieved a significant victory on behalf of our client in a pivotal case heard before a panel of the Michigan Court of Appeals. This case marks a potential turning point in the legal landscape, as it is one of the first instances where a matter has been sent back to the trial courts following a recent alteration in premises liability law, as declared by the Michigan Supreme Court.
In an unpublished decision dated August 31, 2023, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled in Muczynski v Unasource Health, LLC (Docket No. 363124). The trial court’s grant of summary disposition of the premises liability claim in favor of a building owner was based on the application of the open and obvious doctrine. However, this decision was subsequently overturned and remanded due to a significant shift in premises liability law, brought about by the Michigan Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Kandil-Elsayed v F & E Oil, Inc.
The plaintiff, a business invitee, sustained an injury when she was unexpectedly struck from behind by a rotating door wing while exiting a revolving door. Her argument was that the way the revolving door’s threshold had been painted misled her to believe she had cleared the path of the revolving door wings (which, in reality, was not the case), and that this defective condition was not open and obvious.
The trial court determined that the revolving doorway’s defective condition was open and obvious as a matter of law, absolving the defendant of any duty owed to the plaintiff. However, the Michigan Supreme Court, through its landmark Kandil-Elsayed decision, altered the legal landscape by declaring that whether an alleged defective condition is open and obvious should be treated as an issue of fact, specifically within the realm of comparative negligence. This shift in legal perspective led the Court of Appeals to reverse the initial decision and remand the case, now to be adjudicated under the newly established analytical framework.
This case exemplifies the dynamic nature of our legal system and the impact that recent legal developments can have on ongoing litigation. Matt Klakulak’s successful argument has opened the door to a reevaluation of premises liability cases in light of the Michigan Supreme Court’s groundbreaking ruling in Kandil-Elsayed v F & E Oil, Inc.