Stephen J. Markman, Chief Justice Brian K. Zahra Bridget M.
McCormack David F. Viviano Richard H. Bernstein Kurtis T.
Wilder Elizabeth T. Clement, Justices
January 10, 2018, the Court heard oral argument on the
application for leave to appeal the July 19, 2016 judgment of
the Court of Appeals. On order of the Court, the application
is again considered, and it is DENIED, because we are not
persuaded that the question presented should be reviewed by
Markman, C.J. (dissenting).
respectfully dissent from this Court's order denying
leave to appeal. I would reverse the judgment of the Court of
Appeals and reinstate the trial court's grant of summary
disposition in favor of defendants.
Michael Martin, sustained injuries when he slipped and fell
down the stairs inside his townhouse. The stairs at issue led
from the main floor of Martin's unit to his basement, and
they were wooden stairs painted with what the building's
maintenance supervisor described as "Sherwin Williams
porch and floor paint." After the fall, Martin filed the
instant lawsuit against Milham Meadows I Limited Partnership,
which owned the building, and Medallion Management Inc, which
was responsible for maintaining the premises. According to
Martin's complaint, the paint used on the basement stairs
was slippery and caused tenants to fall. In relevant part,
Martin alleged that the stairs were not fit for their
intended use as required by MCL 554.139(1)(a) and that they
were not kept in reasonable repair as required by MCL
554.139(1)(b). Defendants moved for summary disposition under
MCR 2.116(C)(10), and the trial court granted this motion and
dismissed Martin's claims with prejudice. However, the
Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's decision
regarding Martin's claims under MCL 554.139(1)(a) and
(b), holding that there were questions of material fact
regarding whether the stairs were fit for their intended use
and whether they were kept in reasonable repair.
In relevant part, MCL 554.139 provides:
(1) In every lease or license of residential premises, the
lessor or licensor covenants:
(a) That the premises and all common areas are fit for the
use intended by the parties.
(b)To keep the premises in reasonable repair during the term
of the lease or license, and to comply with the applicable
health and safety laws of the state and of the local unit of
government where the premises are located, except when the
disrepair or violation of the applicable health or safety
laws has been caused by the tenants [sic] wilful or
irresponsible conduct or lack of conduct.
Allison v AEW Capital Mgt, LLP, 481 Mich. 419
(2008), this Court analyzed a lessor's duty under MCL
554.139(1)(a) and (b). The plaintiff in Allison
sustained injuries during a fall, which occurred while
walking on one to two inches of snow in the parking lot of
his apartment complex. Id. at 423. In relevant part,
the plaintiff alleged that the condition of the parking lot
constituted a breach of the covenants in MCL 554.139(1).
respect to MCL 554.139(1)(a), Allison explained that
"the lessor effectively has a contractual duty to keep
the parking lot 'fit for the use intended by the
parties.' " Id. at 429. Allison
indicated that "fit" is defined as "
'adapted or suited; appropriate[.]' "
Id., quoting Random House Webster's College
Dictionary (1997). Because the primary purpose of a
parking lot is to store vehicles, "a lessor has a duty
to keep a parking lot adapted or suited for the parking of
vehicles." Allison, 481 Mich. at 429.
Allison explained, "A parking lot is generally
considered suitable for the parking of vehicles as long as
the tenants are able to park their vehicles in the lot and
have reasonable access to their vehicles." Id.
Therefore, in the context of snow and ice, "[a]
lessor's obligation under MCL 554.139(1)(a) with regard
to the accumulation of snow and ice concomitantly would
commonly be to ensure that the entrance to, and the exit
from, the lot is clear, that vehicles can access parking
spaces, and that tenants have reasonable access to their
parked vehicles." Id. Notably, Allison
held that lessors do not need to maintain perfect conditions:
The statute does not require a lessor to maintain a lot in an
ideal condition or in the most accessible condition possible,
but merely requires the lessor to maintain it in a condition
that renders it fit for use as a parking lot. Mere
inconvenience of access, or the need to remove snow and ice
from parked cars, will not defeat the characterization of a
lot as being fit for its intended purposes. [Id. at
Martin claims that the slippery nature of the stairs made
them unfit for their intended use. "The primary purpose
or intended use of a stairway is to provide pedestrian access
to different levels of a building or structure."
Hadden v McDermitt Apartments, LLC, 287 Mich.App.
124, 130 (2010). The record contains evidence that the stairs
were in good condition when Martin moved into the townhouse
and that he successfully traversed the stairs thousands of
times to access different levels of his townhouse; thus,
these stairs successfully served their "intended
use" thousands of times. The Court of Appeals improperly
discounted the fact that ...