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154360 - Michael Martin v Milham Meadows 1

Michael Martin,
Joseph Sukup
Aaron Wisely
(Appeal from Ct of Appeals)
(Kalamazoo – Lipsey, A.)
Milham Meadows I Limited Partnership, and Medallion Management, Inc.,
Robert G. Kamenec


Plaintiff Michael Martin suffered serious injuries when he slipped and fell down the stairs leading to the basement of his rented townhouse. He claimed that he slipped on the top step, that he had slipped on the stairs before, as had his son and other guests, and that he had repeatedly complained about the slippery condition of the painted stairs to the management of the apartment complex, with no results. He filed suit against both the apartment complex lessor and its management company for premises liability and the “landlord’s covenant,” MCL 554.139(1), which requires that a landlord covenant with a tenant that the premises are “fit for the use intended” and kept “in reasonable repair.” The trial court granted summary disposition to defendants on both claims. With regard to the statutory claim, the trial court found no question of fact whether the stairs, used on multiple occasions without incident, were unfit or not in reasonable repair, and the court found plaintiff’s notice of the defect to be inadequate. The Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of the premises liability claim, holding that the hazardous condition was open and obvious, but the panel reversed as to the statutory claim, holding that plaintiff’s notice was sufficient and concluding that reasonable minds could differ on whether the painted stairway was fit for everyday use. The Supreme Court has directed oral argument on defendants’ application for leave to appeal to address whether genuine issues of material fact preclude summary disposition on plaintiff’s claim that the stairs at issue were not “fit for the use intended by the parties” and that defendants did not keep the stairs in “reasonable repair.” MCL 554.139(1)(a) and (b).