Circuit Court LC No. 14-000527-NO
Before: M. J. Kelly, P.J., and O'Connell and Beckering,
Paulette Stenzel appeals as of right the trial court's
orders granting summary disposition in favor of defendants
Best Buy Company Incorporated (Best Buy) and Samsung
Electronics America Incorporated (Samsung). For the reasons
stated in this opinion, we affirm the trial court's order
granting summary disposition in favor of Samsung but reverse
the trial court's order granting summary disposition in
favor of Best Buy.
case arises from Stenzel's purchase of a Samsung
refrigerator/freezer (the refrigerator) from Best Buy.
According to Stenzel, Best Buy delivered the appliance to her
home and installed it. As part of the installation, Best Buy
connected the refrigerator's ice maker and water
dispenser to the existing water line in the home. About two
days later, Stenzel returned home to find that the
refrigerator had begun spraying water through the dispenser
on its front door and onto her kitchen floor. Stenzel
unsuccessfully attempted to stop the water by adjusting a
water or ice dispenser lever, pressing buttons on the control
panel, and, at the direction of a Best Buy employee, trying
to disconnect the flow of water to the refrigerator using a
valve at the back of the appliance. When none of those steps
worked, the Best Buy employee directed her to shut off the
water line for her home, which she did after climbing a
ladder in her basement into a crawl space under her kitchen.
Stenzel testified that when she was in the crawl space, she
discovered that water had leaked through the floor into the
crawl space. Further, she testified that the coating of water
in the kitchen extended partially around an island counter
that was three and a half to four feet away from the
testified that she was frantic to clean up the standing water
because she was concerned about water damage. She explained
that she took every towel available and covered almost the
entire surface where water had been standing. Stenzel
testified that at first she attempted to wring the wet towels
out in the sink, but there was too much water. She then put
some of the towels in a lattice laundry basket. Because it
was heavy with water and wet towels, she dragged the basket
through her living room, down two steps in her sunroom, and
across the sunroom in order to get the towels outside. After
hanging the towels, she returned for a second load. According
to Stenzel, this time when she was walking through her
sunroom, attempting to drag the basket outside, her
"foot went out from under [her]" and she fell and
broke her leg and ankle. She testified that she fell because
her feet were wet or because the floor in the sunroom was wet
from dragging the basket of wet towels through the room.
April 2014, Stenzel brought suit against Best Buy, alleging
negligence, breach of contract, and breach of warranty. In
May 2015, she amended her complaint to add claims against
Samsung. Best Buy moved for summary disposition, which the
trial court granted in April 2015 after finding that Stenzel
had failed to establish causation. Samsung also moved for
summary disposition, which the trial court granted in July
2015 after finding that Stenzel had again failed to establish
causation and that her claims against Samsung were barred by
the statute of limitations.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
argues that the trial court erred in granting summary
disposition in favor of Best Buy and Samsung. This Court
reviews de novo a trial court's ruling on a motion for
summary disposition. Marilyn Froling Revocable Living
Trust v Bloomfield Hills Country Club, 283 Mich.App.
264, 279; 769 N.W.2d 234 (2009). Under MCR 2.116(C)(10), a
party may be entitled to summary disposition if there is no
genuine issue with respect to any material fact and the
moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Id. at 278. All documentary evidence submitted by
the parties is considered in the light most favorable to the
nonmoving party. Id.
order to establish causation, a plaintiff must establish both
cause in fact and legal cause, i.e. proximate cause.
Skinner v Square D Co, 445 Mich. 153, 162-163; 516
N.W.2d 475 (1994). "The cause in fact element generally
requires showing that "but for" the defendant's
actions, the plaintiff's injury would not have
occurred." Id. at 163. Legal cause
"normally involves examining the foreseeability of
consequences, and whether a defendant should be held legally
responsible for such consequences." Id. Here,
the trial court found that Stenzel had failed to establish
either cause in fact or proximate cause.
Skinner, our ...