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Gatza Wrap: Open and Obvious Applies to Inattentive Shoppers

Premises Liability / July 13, 2021

Be careful: Claimants often argue the non-existent “distracted shopper” exception to the open and obvious defense. In Gatza v Ford, the Michigan Court of Appeals reemphasized that the open and obvious doctrine applies to premises liability claims brought by inattentive shoppers.

The Gatza Court rejected Plaintiff’s contention that the open and obvious doctrine is inapplicable to injurious scenarios involving distracted shoppers, regardless of any hazard’s open and obvious nature. In doing so, it reaffirmed the holding in Kennedy v Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co.

While Gatza is an unpublished opinion and is therefore non-binding, it may serve as persuasive authority to rebuff future, misplaced reliance on Jaworski v Great Scott Supermarkets.

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