Personal Injury

In The News

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Michigan Supreme Court Issues a Ruling Creating a “Could have Known” Standard in Slip and Fall Cases

By Michael Nichols
Categories: Personal Injury

“A new ruling from the Michigan Supreme Court may send shockwaves through some of you who ask ‘how could they deny this woman compensation?’ but it is a strong warning about how difficult it can be to turn a legitimate slip and fall incident into a legal case with a recovery. Marguerite Ragnoli and her husband were walking through the parking lot of North Oakland-North Macomb Imaging on an evening during the Winter of 2014. The parking lot lights had not yet come on to illuminate the area and witnesses in the area describe the amount of lighting as “dim.” After taking a few steps into the parking lot, Marguerite slipped and fell on a patch of black ice, breaking her wrists and requiring multiple surgeries. Ms. Ragnoli claimed in court that the black ice was not visible to her due to the very little amount of light that was available.

The case become a sort of tennis match with the Michigan Supreme Court serving up the match point by ruling against Ms. Ragnoli and returning the case to the lower courts for final judgment. The Supreme Court Justices ruled that because of other wintery conditions in the area, it should have been “open and obvious” to Ms. Ragnoli that there could be black ice. Justice Richard Bernstein delivered the lone dissenting vote on the issue, believing that Ms. Ragnoli’s case was a deviation from the court’s interpretation of the “open and obvious” doctrine. Justice Bernstein’s reasoning was because the area which caused her to fall was not obvious to her at the time. This case could have major implications on the rights of people to seek relief after they have been injured in a slip and fall accident. Property owners have an obligation under Michigan law to maintain their premises and prevent them from posing an injury to the public. Michigan Personal Injury attorney Wendy Schiller-Nichols says: “this ruling could result in a steeper hill to climb for Plaintiffs seeking damages for injuries when a defendant can produce evidence of circumstances that create the ‘possibility’ of adverse conditions, thus putting injured people on ‘potential-notice.’”

Personal Injury cases involving slip and fall accidents, auto accidents, or medical malpractice require having an attorney who is experienced in providing a relentless defense of your rights. Attorneys Wendy Schiller-Nichols and James T. Heos lead the Personal Injury practice for the Nichols Law Firm and together have a combined experience of 58 years protecting their clients at their most vulnerable moments. If you have been injured in an accident or as the result of someone else’s negligence, time is of the essence to make sure you are given what may be owed to you. Reach out to the personal injury attorneys who are committed to results, call Wendy Schiller Nichols or James T. Heos at 517.432.9000 or email Wendy at

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Peer Recognition

Mike Nichols is a national leader in drunk driving defense. He is a member of the Forensic Committee and Michigan delegate to the National College for DUI Defense. He is also a Sustaining Member of the College. Nichols is also a founding member of the Michigan Association of OWI Attorneys; a member of the American Chemical Society; an associate member of he American Academy of Forensic Science, Adjunct Professor of Forensic Evidence in Criminal Law and OWI Law and Practice at Cooley Law School. He is also author of the West OWI Practice book and several chapters in other books on science and the law.

Mike Nichols is recognized by his peers in Michigan as a “SuperLawyer” in DUI/Criminal Defense. Nichols has also been asked to speak at conferences by groups such as the NCDD; Various Bar Associations in other states.