Riddle v. McLouth Steel Products Corp., Docket No. 109941

CourtCourt of Appeal of Michigan (US)
Writing for the CourtMARILYN J. KELLY
Citation182 Mich.App. 259,451 N.W.2d 590
PartiesVance RIDDLE and Lucinda Riddle, his wife, Plaintiffs-Appellees, v. McLOUTH STEEL PRODUCTS CORPORATION, a Michigan Corporation, Defendant-Appellant. 182 Mich.App. 259, 451 N.W.2d 590
Docket NumberDocket No. 109941
Decision Date07 March 1990

Page 590

451 N.W.2d 590
Vance RIDDLE and Lucinda Riddle, his wife,
Plaintiffs-Appellees,
v.
McLOUTH STEEL PRODUCTS CORPORATION, a Michigan Corporation,
Defendant-Appellant.
Docket No. 109941.
182 Mich.App. 259, 451 N.W.2d 590
Court of Appeals of Michigan.
Submitted Aug. 15, 1989.
Decided Feb. 5, 1990.
Released for Publication March 7, 1990.

Page 591

[182 MICHAPP 260] Chambers, Steiner, Mazur, Ornstein & Amlin, P.C. by Angela J. Nicita and Courtney E. Morgan, Detroit, for plaintiffs-appellees.

Garan, Lucow, Miller, Seward, Cooper & Becker, P.C. by Matthew A. Seward and Rosalind Rochkind, Detroit, for defendant-appellant.

[182 MICHAPP 261] Before MacKENZIE, P.J., and MARILYN J. KELLY and BURNS *, JJ.

MARILYN J. KELLY, Judge.

This is a premises liability action. A jury found defendant, McLouth Steel Products Corporation, liable to plaintiffs, Vance Riddle and his wife, Lucinda, for injuries sustained when Riddle slipped and fell at a McLouth plant. The jury award was $4,680,000 for Riddle and $320,000 for his wife. As the jury found Riddle thirty percent negligent, damages were reduced proportionately. McLouth appeals as of right. We affirm.

Riddle was a truck driver employed by an independent contractor. Since 1983, he had spent his entire workday hauling steel from McLouth's plant in Trenton to its plant in Gibraltar.

The steel hauled by Riddle first went through a "pickling" process. Cold-rolled steel was unrolled and covered with oil in Trenton. It was then rerolled and placed on racks from which excess oil drained. The pickled steel was then loaded onto trucks and taken to the Gibraltar plant. At Gibraltar, the steel rolls were unloaded and stored on metal rails where they continued to drain. The draining area was known as the coil field. Steel remained there until further processing.

On January 19, 1984, before his second run to the Gibraltar plant, Riddle was asked by a McLouth employee to deliver a box to the foreman's office at Gibraltar. After arriving at Gibraltar, Riddle removed the box from the truck. He and another driver, Charles Pfeiffer, began the walk to the foreman's office. They took the shortest route, through the coil field. Suddenly, Riddle slipped. His feet went out from under him and his hard [182 MICHAPP 262] hat flew off. As he hit the concrete floor, his head struck one of the rails, severely injuring him.

Pfeiffer went to Riddle's assistance, and as he did, he realized there was oil on the floor. Neither Riddle nor Pfeiffer had noticed oil before. Both acknowledged that they knew oil dripped on the floor and sometimes made it slippery. However, they had seen defendant's employees cleaning the floor that morning. The nearest steel coil which had been set out to drain was approximately thirty feet from where Riddle fell.

McLouth had posted no signs warning of the dangers of oil draining. It had designated no safe walkways. The mill foreman, William Nelhengen, testified that McLouth was aware of the hazard. Efforts were made to clean up the oil every six to eight weeks. There were four walkways through the coil field. However, ninety-nine percent of the drivers used the walkway where Riddle fell. Lines were painted on the floor to warn crane operators not to place coils there.

On appeal, McLouth alleges two instructional errors. First, it claims the court erred in refusing to modify the standard jury instruction defining the duty owed by a possessor of premises to an invitee (SJ12d 19.03).

The court gave the following instruction defining McLouth's duty:

It is the duty of a possessor of premises to exercise reasonable care for the

Page 592

protection of an invitee, the status that Mr. Riddle had in this case. The possessor must warn the invitee of dangers which it knows or has created and must inspect the premises to discover possible danger or conditions for which it does not know. It must take reasonable precautions to protect the invitee from dangers that are foreseeable. However, a possesser is not an insurer of the safety of an invitee, and [182 MICHAPP 263] his duty is only to exercise reasonable care for the invitee's protection. The mere existence of a defect or danger is not enough to establish liability unless it is shown to be such of [sic] a character, or such duration that it would have been discovered by a reasonably careful person. 1

McLouth claims that the instruction should have been modified. It wanted the court to inform the jury that there was no duty to warn of dangers that Riddle had knowledge of or which were open and obvious. McLouth admits there were no warnings, but it contends that Riddle knew there was oil on the floor based on his seventeen years of experience in the industry. The instruction given forced the jurors to find negligence based on a breach of the duty to warn, even if they found Riddle had knowledge of the condition. McLouth argues the instruction was incorrect under the law.

Vance and Lucinda Riddle contend that the issue of his knowledge of a dangerous condition takes on relevance only when his comparative negligence is construed. It does not diminish McLouth's duty to warn of known hazards. The trial judge instructed the jurors on Riddle's duty to use reasonable care. He informed them also that it was McLouth's theory that Riddle had breached his duty because of his knowledge of the dangerous condition.

This case puts into issue the status of the "no-duty to warn...

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6 practice notes
  • Riddle v. McLouth Steel Products Corp., Docket No. 89273
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Michigan
    • November 1, 1991
    ...which was also denied. The Court of Appeals found no instructional error and affirmed the decision of the circuit court, 182 Mich.App. 259, 451 N.W.2d 590 (1990), and denied McLouth's motion of rehearing. We granted leave by order dated March 27, 1991. 437 Mich. 929. II It is well settled i......
  • Klopp v. Wackenhut Corp., No. 19318
    • United States
    • New Mexico Supreme Court of New Mexico
    • January 8, 1992
    ...(abolishing open and obvious danger doctrine in light of adoption of comparative negligence); Riddle v. McLouth Steel Prods. Corp., 182 Mich.App. 259, 451 N.W.2d 590 (1990) (same); Cox v. J.C. Penney Co., 741 S.W.2d 28 (Mo.1987) (en banc) (same); Woolston v. Wells, 297 Or. 548, 687 P.2d 144......
  • Simmers v. Bentley Constr. Co., No. 91-1500
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Ohio
    • September 9, 1992
    ...Inc. (Mo.1987), 741 S.W.2d 28; Harrison v. Taylor (1989), 115 Idaho 588, 768 P.2d 1321; Riddle v. McLouth Steel Products Corp. (1990), 182 Mich.App. 259, 451 N.W.2d 590. Other jurisdictions, however, have retained the doctrine as an absolute bar, reasoning that it is not incompatible with c......
  • Novotney v. Burger King Corp., Docket No. 116731
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Michigan (US)
    • May 6, 1991
    ...so-called "no duty to warn of an open and obvious danger rule" in a premises liability case. In Riddle v. McLouth Steel Products Corp., 182 Mich.App. 259, 263-266, 451 N.W.2d 590 (1990), this Court held that the no-duty rule should be abolished in Michigan, stating in We believe that the no......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
6 cases
  • Riddle v. McLouth Steel Products Corp., Docket No. 89273
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Michigan
    • November 1, 1991
    ...which was also denied. The Court of Appeals found no instructional error and affirmed the decision of the circuit court, 182 Mich.App. 259, 451 N.W.2d 590 (1990), and denied McLouth's motion of rehearing. We granted leave by order dated March 27, 1991. 437 Mich. 929. II It is well settled i......
  • Klopp v. Wackenhut Corp., No. 19318
    • United States
    • New Mexico Supreme Court of New Mexico
    • January 8, 1992
    ...(abolishing open and obvious danger doctrine in light of adoption of comparative negligence); Riddle v. McLouth Steel Prods. Corp., 182 Mich.App. 259, 451 N.W.2d 590 (1990) (same); Cox v. J.C. Penney Co., 741 S.W.2d 28 (Mo.1987) (en banc) (same); Woolston v. Wells, 297 Or. 548, 687 P.2d 144......
  • Simmers v. Bentley Constr. Co., No. 91-1500
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Ohio
    • September 9, 1992
    ...Inc. (Mo.1987), 741 S.W.2d 28; Harrison v. Taylor (1989), 115 Idaho 588, 768 P.2d 1321; Riddle v. McLouth Steel Products Corp. (1990), 182 Mich.App. 259, 451 N.W.2d 590. Other jurisdictions, however, have retained the doctrine as an absolute bar, reasoning that it is not incompatible with c......
  • Novotney v. Burger King Corp., Docket No. 116731
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Michigan (US)
    • May 6, 1991
    ...so-called "no duty to warn of an open and obvious danger rule" in a premises liability case. In Riddle v. McLouth Steel Products Corp., 182 Mich.App. 259, 263-266, 451 N.W.2d 590 (1990), this Court held that the no-duty rule should be abolished in Michigan, stating in We believe that the no......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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