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Watch Your Step: COA Rules that Narrow Stairs Do Not Qualify as Special Aspects

Premises Liability / June 6, 2019

In Bardeleben v Milliken, et al., unpublished opinion per curiam of the COA, issued May 16, 2019 (Docket No. 343341), the COA affirmed summary disposition in favor of Defendants after Plaintiff’s fall down hardwood stairs. The Court ruled that, although the bottom five steps narrowed, this alleged hazard was open and obvious with no special aspects making them unreasonably dangerous. The Bardeleben opinion is significant as the Court emphasized that the special aspects doctrine is narrow. Merely alleging that a hazard is unique (e.g., narrowed steps) will not negate the open and obvious defense to common law premises claims.

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