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A trial court properly granted summary disposition to a property owner where the uneven pavement and dim lighting on his property were open and obvious conditions that were not unreasonably dangerous

The court held that the trial court did not err by granting summary disposition for the defendant-property owner in the plaintiff's premises liability action because "the uneven pavement and dim lighting were open and obvious conditions that were not unreasonably dangerous, were not effectively unavoidable, and did not pose an unreasonable risk of harm." Plaintiff sued defendant for injuries he sustained when he tripped and fell on uneven pavement while helping a friend move into a home defendant owned. On appeal, the court rejected plaintiff's argument that the uneven pavement was not open and obvious due to the lack of illumination at the time of his fall. It distinguished his situation from Abke and Knight, where the plaintiffs "fell due to unexpected drop-offs from indoor loading docks in dark areas," noting these conditions "presented a hazard vastly more significant and dangerous than the routine elevation difference in this case." Instead, it compared plaintiff's situation to Singerman, noting he "expressly recognized that the area was dark" and not well lit, but still "made a conscious choice to exit his vehicle and begin moving items into the rental house despite the consistent lack of illumination, concluding that there was sufficient light" to move the boxes. "There were no allegations or evidence indicating that the amount of light changed between the time at which plaintiff entered the house with a box from his vehicle and the time at which plaintiff descended the side stairs and stepped onto the uneven pavement." Thus, "given this consistent lack of light, an average individual of ordinary intelligence would be on notice that it was necessary to advance cautiously." Further, he "was able to navigate the steps adjacent to the uneven pavement without incident, which indicates that there was sufficient light in the area for plaintiff to observe level changes near" the stairs, and he "expressly acknowledged that he did not look at the surface of the sidewalk when he ascended or descended the side stairs." The court also rejected his argument that the uneven sidewalk on which he fell was effectively unavoidable, noting that the side steps were not the only route available, and that he "had a choice regarding whether to confront the sidewalk at the bottom of the side stairs." Thus, "reasonable minds could not differ in concluding that plaintiff was not 'effectively trapped' by the hazard." Affirmed. 

FAMILY LAW 88: The trial court found that the children did not have an established custodial environment with defendant because, before the separation, he did not have a large role in the children’s lives.

The trial court credited plaintiff’s testimony that, before the parties’ separation, defendant spent minimal time helping to care for the children, so its finding that the children would not have looked to defendant for guidance, discipline, the necessities of life, and parental comfort during that time was not against the great weight of the evidence.

REAL ESTATE 89: RM had not included any language in the deed providing that the property was a joint tenancy with full rights of survivorship, the property instead became a tenancy in common.

RM drafted the deed without seeking counsel and mistakenly believed that, if either she or FK died, the property would fully pass to the surviving tenant. FK’s will provided that if his wife predeceased him—which she did—the personal representative of his estate should sell any residual property that he owned and divide the cash proceeds equally among his surviving children.

FAMILY LAW 83: A trial court can terminate a parent’s rights and permit a stepparent to adopt a child.

A trial court has discretion to terminate a parent’s rights and permit a stepparent to adopt a child when the conditions of MCL 710.51(6) are met. MCL 710.51(6)(b) requires the petitioner to establish that the other parent had the ability to visit, contact, or communicate with the children, and substantially failed or neglected to do so for a period of two years.

PROBATE 53: The trust agreement included an Incontestability Provision.

A settlor’s intent is to be carried out as nearly as possible. Generally, in terrorem clauses are valid and enforceable. However, a provision in a trust that purports to penalize an interested person for contesting the trust or instituting another proceeding relating to the trust shall not be given effect if probable cause exists for instituting a proceeding contesting the trust or another proceeding relating to the trust.

FAMILY LAW 82: Court stated it would terminate the personal protection order (PPO) after the parties present documentation of the initiation of the divorce proceedings.

However, the trial court concluded that these matters should, in fact, be in the province and the jurisdiction of the Family Division and in that respect, having issued a personal protection order, the Court stated it would terminate the personal protection order after the parties present documentation of the initiation of the divorce proceedings.

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