Woman hurt after falling over sidewalk obstruction prompts fight to change law

Posted at 4:42 PM, Feb 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-28 21:18:58-05

NORTHVILLE, Mich. (WXYZ) — A mother and daughter excited to spend the day together in downtown Northville never got a chance, because mom ended up in the hospital after taking a nasty fall. Now, not only is she fighting to get better, she’s also fighting for justice.

Pam Flanigan, 70, suffered severe cuts, bruises, nerve damage, a back injury and a broken tooth.

“I hit it and I flew. I can remember hitting the ground with my face”, says Pam.

The scene was bloody and scary. Police arrived, so did an ambulance, but not before a nurse passing by helped administer care.

The frightening fall occurred at a curb or embankment, in a sidewalk. According to a police report from Northville police, the area primarily belongs to Comerica Bank.

Many of you may believe the bank would have to cover Pam’s medical bills, or even be required to place a sign, a rail, paint the curb or provide a permanent symbol, to caution unsuspecting patrons at this plaza.

Believe it not, by law Comerica, does not have to.

“The court in Michigan charged the law in 2001”, explains attorney Jordan Acker.

The law says a premises owner can be held liable for dangerous conditions on their property, unless the dangerous condition was “open and obvious." That means the average person would have or should have seen the potential danger.

“It’s not OK. It’s not what our legislature intended here in Michigan and we can do so much better. What you have here is, you have people who are seriously injured sometimes and there’s nothing we can do for them”, says Acker.

A spokesperson with Comerica Corporate Communications tells 7 Action News it is looking into the matter and has no comment.

Though that may be a step in the right direction.

Acker and his client are pleading with all of us to take some steps of our own. They want to change the law.

“We want you to call your legislature, to say, this isn’t OK. You have a right to protect us” says Acker.

State Rep. Matt Koleszar, who represents district 20, released this statement:

"My office is looking into the matter. The safety of our constituents, and any visitors to the district, is of the utmost importance to us. We send our best regards to the family of the victim and wish for a speedy recovery. We hope to help prevent any potential injuries like this whenever possible, especially in places with multiple instances of injury."