An amicus brief, authored by Collins Einhorn Farrell appellate attorney Jonathan B. Koch, was filed by the Michigan Defense Trial Counsel in support of the defendant’s application for leave to appeal in Martin v Milham Meadows. The issue in Martin is whether the basement stairs in the plaintiff’s rented townhouse were “fit for the use intended by the parties” and/or whether the defendants kept the stairs in “reasonable repair.”

The Court of Appeals in this case reversed a grant of summary disposition in favor of the defendants, finding that the defendants violated MCL 554.139(1) by failing to make their premises as safe and accessible as possible and by not implementing additional safety measures. The Court of Appeals dismissed the fact that the plaintiff had safely used the allegedly slippery steps almost two thousand times over several years, even though the Michigan Supreme Court has held that a premises only needs to provide reasonable access. The court also overlooked the fact that the additional safety measures were not part of the original condition of the premises and, thus, were not reasonable repairs.

On May 19, 2017, the Michigan Supreme Court granted a mini oral argument on defendants-appellants’ application for leave to appeal and invited briefing from the MDTC. Jonathan B. Koch drafted the amicus brief on behalf of the MDTC in support of defendants’ application for leave to appeal, arguing that, by holding that defendants-appellants’ failure to implement additional safety measures rendered the stairs at issue unfit, the Court of Appeals departed from Michigan Supreme Court precedent holding that fitness only requires reasonable access not perfection. MDTC also pointed out that the Court of Appeals’ opinion conflicts with the Supreme Court’s precedent regarding the duty of “reasonable repair” by requiring landlords to go beyond repairing and restoring the premises to its original condition by taking additional steps to make it as safe and accessible as possible.

To read the full amicus brief, click here.

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