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Construction worker who stumbled and hit head on ladder cannot recover damages from general contractor

Holding that the plaintiff failed to establish a genuine issue of material fact as to all the elements of the common work area doctrine, the court affirmed the trial court's order granting the defendant-general contractor summary disposition. Plaintiff was stepping off a ladder on the worksite when he lost his footing, "took a couple of steps, traversed six to nine feet, then hit his head on another ladder that he thought might have been angled in some manner." His son, also working on the site, testified that he saw two stacks of ladders leaning against the wall. As to the first element of the doctrine, the court noted that the trial court erred to the extent it relied on Phillips for principles that were abrogated in Ormsby. Further, while defendant focused on the fact that plaintiff was employed directly through other entities, defendant "was the general contractor and exerted what appears to be complete control over the worksite, including the coordination of plaintiff's work. There is at least a question of fact regarding whether defendant could have taken reasonable steps within its supervisory and coordinating authority to guard against the alleged hazard." Thus, there was a genuine issue of material fact as to the first element of the doctrine. However, plaintiff's claim failed because he did not present a genuine issue of material fact as to the second element, whether there was a readily observable and avoidable danger on the worksite. While he highlighted two MIOSHA regulations to support his claim that the stacks of ladders were an observable and avoidable danger, the court noted that there was no evidence the ladders were being stored, and no indication that they were unsecure in their placement. "It is not a readily observable and avoidable danger for a worker to stumble, six to nine feet away, off of a ladder and then somehow strike his head on a seemingly secure ladder that may have been part of a stack of ladders." The court added that plaintiff also "did not produce any evidence that a significant number of workers were exposed to the alleged danger to which he was exposed."

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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PROBATE 51: Trust filed a petition to determine title to credit union account.

The probate court explained that the owners of the account are S and J. When S passes, J becomes the owner of the account. J is the one who had the authority to make the designation. Nowhere in any documents is there a designation by J that SJ be the owner -- or the beneficiary of the account. The designation made by his father was no longer binding because he was no longer the owner at the time J passed away.

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FAMILY LAW 77: Court awarded plaintiff sole legal custody; defendant was unwilling to work with plaintiff.

For joint custody to work, parents must be able to agree with each other on basic issues in child rearing including health care, religion, education, day to day decision making and discipline and they must be willing to cooperate with each other in joint decision making. If two equally capable parents are unable to cooperate and to agree generally concerning important decisions affecting the welfare of their children, the court has no alternative but to determine which parent shall have sole custody of the children.

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