Grunau v. E. Lansing Athletic Club, Inc., 356233

CourtCourt of Appeal of Michigan (US)
Writing for the CourtPer Curiam.
PartiesPAMELA GRUNAU, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. EAST LANSING ATHLETIC CLUB, INC., doing business as SPARROW MICHIGAN ATHLETIC CLUB, Defendant-Appellee.
Decision Date14 April 2022
Docket Number356233

PAMELA GRUNAU, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.

EAST LANSING ATHLETIC CLUB, INC., doing business as SPARROW MICHIGAN ATHLETIC CLUB, Defendant-Appellee.

No. 356233

Court of Appeals of Michigan

April 14, 2022


UNPUBLISHED

Ingham Circuit Court LC No. 19-000911-NO

Before: Ronayne Krause, P.J., and Murray and O'Brien, JJ.

Per Curiam.

In this premises liability action, plaintiff appeals by right the trial court's order granting defendant's motion for summary disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(8) and (C)(10). We affirm.

I. FACTS

In January 2019, plaintiff went to the Sparrow Michigan Athletic Club (the "MAC") to attend a water exercise class. Plaintiff went to the women's locker room to change into her swimsuit, and as she was leaving the locker room, several women were standing in the path she previously took to go to her locker. Plaintiff took another path out of the locker room, and while she was walking out, she saw a wet spot on the carpeted floor that she believed was water. Plaintiff stepped on the wet spot, slipped, and fell. After she fell, plaintiff saw a bucket underneath the benches with a small amount of a brown, greasy liquid in it. An MAC employee informed plaintiff that the liquid on the floor was antifreeze, which had leaked from a rooftop unit, through the ceiling and into the locker room.

Plaintiff filed a complaint against defendant, alleging claims of premises liability and negligence. Defendant sought summary disposition pursuant to MCR 2.116(C)(8) and (C)(10). Through a well-reasoned opinion and order, the trial court granted the motion, and this appeal followed.

II. ANALYSIS

1

A. STANDARD OF REVIEW

"This Court reviews a trial court's ruling on a motion for summary disposition de novo." Pugno v Blue Harvest Farms LLC, 326 Mich.App. 1, 11; 930 N.W.2d 393 (2018). Under MCR 2.116(C)(8), summary disposition is appropriate when "[t]he opposing party has failed to state a claim on which relief can be granted." The trial court must accept all factual allegations in the pleadings as true and consider the pleadings alone. El-Khalil v Oakwood Healthcare, Inc, 504 Mich. 152, 160; 934 N.W.2d 665 (2019). A motion under MCR 2.116(C)(8) "may only be granted when a claim is so clearly unenforceable that no factual development could possibly justify recovery." Id. Under MCR 2.116(C)(10), summary disposition is appropriate when, "[e]xcept as to the amount of damages, there is no genuine issue as to any material fact, and the moving party is entitled to judgment or partial judgment as a matter of law." This Court must consider the "pleadings, admissions, and other evidence submitted by the parties in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party." Latham v Barton Malow Co, 480 Mich. 105, 111; 746 N.W.2d 868 (2008). "A genuine issue of material fact exists when the record leaves open an issue upon which reasonable minds might differ." Johnson v Vanderkooi, 502 Mich. 751, 761; 918 N.W.2d 785 (2018) (quotation marks, citation, and alteration omitted).

B. DISMISSAL OF NEGLIGENCE CLAIM

Plaintiff argues that the trial court erred by dismissing her negligence claim under MCR 2.116(C)(8) on the basis that the claim sounds in premises liability.

"Courts are not bound by the labels that parties attach to their claims." Buhalis v Trinity Continuing Care Servs, 296 Mich.App. 685, 691; 822 N.W.2d 254 (2012). "Instead, an action should be determined by reading the entire complaint, looking beyond procedural labels, and determining the exact nature of the claim." Pugno, 326 Mich.App. at 13. "Michigan law distinguishes between claims arising from ordinary negligence and claims premised on a condition of the land." Buhalis, 296 Mich.App. at 692. A plaintiff may bring a claim of ordinary negligence for the overt acts of a premises owner that occur on his or her premises. Kachudas v Invaders Self Auto Wash, Inc, 486 Mich. 913, 914; 781 N.W.2d 806 (2010). However, "[i]f the plaintiff's injury arose from an allegedly dangerous condition on the land, the action sounds in premises liability rather than ordinary negligence . . . ." Id.

Despite their headings, plaintiff's two counts were based in premises liability because each alleged that plaintiff's injury occurred because of a condition on the land, the wet spot on the carpeted floor, rather than defendant's conduct. See Buhalis, 296 Mich.App. at 692. Therefore, the two counts in plaintiff's complaint sound solely in premises liability, and the trial court properly dismissed her ordinary negligence claim pursuant to MCR 2.116(C)(8).

C. OPEN AND OBVIOUS DANGER

We also reject plaintiff's argument that the trial court erred by granting summary disposition of her premises liability claim on the basis that the wet spot on the floor was an open and obvious condition.

2

Plaintiff was an invitee at the MAC because she was there as a gym member to use the exercise equipment at the gym. See Stitt v Holland Abundant Life Fellowship, 462 Mich. 592, 597; 614 N.W.2d 88 (2000) ("[I]nvitee status is commonly afforded to persons entering upon the property of another for business purposes."). "In general, a premises possessor owes a duty to an invitee to exercise reasonable care to protect the invitee from an unreasonable risk of harm caused by a dangerous condition on the land." Lugo v Ameritech Inc, 464 Mich. 512, 516; 629 N.W.2d 384 (2001). See also Estate of Livings v Sage's Investment Group LLC, 507 Mich. 328, 337-338; 968 N.W.2d 397 (2021). This duty is breached if a premises possessor "knows or should know of a dangerous condition on the premises of which the invitee is...

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