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Michigan Court of Appeals Affirms Dismissal: Inferring Hazardous Ice from a Damp Jacket Is Impermissible Guesswork

On February 13, 2014, the Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of a premises liability case in Shurtz v. U-Haul Co. of Michigan.  The Court agreed that the plaintiff’s causation theory amounted to mere “guesswork” under Skinner v. Square D Co., 445 Mich. 153 (1994).  The plaintiff testified at deposition that he slipped in a parking lot one February morning, and his jacket was damp when he stood up, but he did not see or feel ice or anything else on the ground before or after his fall.  The plaintiff said he “‘figure[d]’ … he ‘slipped on a patch of ice’” but admitted it could have been oil, and he simply did not know what made him fall.  The court of appeals found the plaintiff’s theory “eminently plausible,” but nevertheless speculative, because the evidence did not “necessarily impl[y] an absence of other plausible theories.”

Bush Seyferth & Paige PLLC represented U-Haul Co. of Michigan in the Wayne County Circuit Court action (Moheeb Murray) and on appeal (Stephanie Douglas).

Click here for the full Decision and Opinion re Motion for Summary Disposition.

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