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Ji Liang v. Liang

Court of Appeals of Michigan

May 16, 2019

McCarty JI LIANG, BY Next Friend Mei SHAW, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
GUANG HUI LIANG and G. Liang, Inc., doing business as Chan’s Chinese Restaurant, Inc., Defendants-Appellants.

         Submitted April 10, 2019, at Detroit.

Page 711

          Wayne Circuit Court, LC No. 17-008903-NO, Edward Ewell, Jr., J.

         Ross Law Office, PLLC (by Sherrie C. Ross) for plaintiff.

         Harvey Kruse, PC (by James E. Sukkar and Gregory P. LaVoy) for defendants.

         Before: Murray, C.J., and Sawyer and Redford, JJ.

          OPINION

         Murray, C.J.

Page 712

          [328 Mich.App. 304] We granted the application for leave to appeal filed by defendants, Guang Hui Liang (Liang) and G. Liang, Inc., doing business as Chan’s Chinese Restaurant, Inc. (Chan’s),[1] to consider whether Liang is entitled to parental immunity from the claims brought against him by his son, plaintiff McCarty Ji Liang, for an injury plaintiff suffered at Liang’s business. For the reasons that follow, we hold that parental immunity bars the negligence-based claims against Liang but that the immunity doctrine has no bearing on the premises-liability claim against the corporate entity. Accordingly, we affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

          I. BACKGROUND

         This case arises from the injuries suffered by plaintiff at Chan’s, his father Liang’s restaurant.[2] Plaintiff, who was five years old at the time, arrived at Chan’s between 9:30 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. with his mother, Guo Ying Cao, to surprise Liang for Father’s Day. Although Chan’s operated only as a take-out restaurant, it had a full dining room in the front where plaintiff and Cao [328 Mich.App. 305] waited while Liang prepared for closing by cleaning and prepping food for the next day. When Cao walked away to inform a customer at the take-out window that Chan’s had closed for the night, plaintiff wandered out of the dining area and into a room that housed the restaurant’s industrial meat grinder. The room, separated from the kitchen, was near the bathroom, and the meat grinder was plugged in on the floor. Plaintiff attempted to operate the meat grinder, but caught and injured his hand in the machine, ultimately requiring amputation of his hand.

         In his suit against defendants, plaintiff alleged common-law negligence, negligent infliction of emotional distress (NIED), and premises liability. In lieu of an answer, defendants moved for summary disposition of the complaint pursuant to MCR 2.116(C)(7) and (8), asserting entitlement to parental immunity from plaintiff’s claims. Plaintiff responded by arguing that parental immunity could not shield Chan’s, a corporate entity, from liability and that his complaint did not allege negligent supervision as Liang was acting in a business capacity at the time of the injuries. Further, plaintiff asserted that parental immunity did not apply to his premises-liability claim because property owners owe a heightened duty of care to licensees. Ultimately, the trial court denied defendants’ motion, holding that parental immunity could not shield defendants from liability because Liang was acting as a business owner when plaintiff’s injuries occurred and had a duty to plaintiff as an invitee on the property.

          II. ANALYSIS

          We first address defendants’ argument that the trial court erred when it concluded that parental immunity did not bar plaintiff’s claims against Liang. We agree [328 Mich.App. 306] and hold that, notwithstanding the fact that plaintiff’s injuries ...


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