The Michigan Defense Trial Counsel filed an amicus brief in support of the defendants’ position in Scola v JP Morgan Chase Bank. Collins Einhorn Farrell appellate attorney Jonathan B. Koch authored the brief. In Scola, the plaintiff claims that property owners have a duty to warn invitees when their properties exit to a one-way street. The trial court granted summary disposition in favor of defendants and the Court of Appeals affirmed. It held that the plaintiff’s claims sounded exclusively in premises liability and, thus, was subject to the open-and-obvious doctrine. The court also concluded that any danger posed by the lack of signage was readily observable upon casual inspection, the plaintiff’s claim was barred by the open-and-obvious doctrine. In his application for leave to appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court, the plaintiff asks the Court to upend decades of precedent distinguishing premises liability from ordinary negligence and impose a duty on landowners to protect invitees from open-and-obvious conditions.

 

In June, the Michigan Supreme Court decided to hear oral argument to consider the plaintiff’s application for leave to appeal and invited briefing from the MDTC. Koch drafted the amicus brief on behalf of the MDTC in support of the defendants’ position. The MDTC argues that, because the plaintiff’s complaint alleged that he had been injured by a dangerous condition on the defendant’s land (an alleged failure to maintain adequate warning signage at the exit of the parking lot) and because the duty that the defendant allegedly breached arose from its status as a landowner, his claim sounded exclusively in premises liability even though the injuries occurred outside of the defendant’s property. MDTC also argued that, if adopted, plaintiff’s position regarding the open-and-obvious doctrine would upend almost three decades of well-settled Michigan law.

 

This case was argued on December 11, 2019 before the Supreme Court.

To download the full amicus brief, click here.

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