A 58-year-old woman will have a chance to tell her so-called “bizarre story” to a jury, thanks to a 4-3 ruling by the Michigan Supreme Court. Sheri Schooley was injured on New Year’s Eve 2007 at a Texas Roadhouse restaurant in Taylor, Michigan, near the Ohio border. As she was reaching for toilet paper in the bathroom, the cover of the toilet paper dispenser came crashing down on Ms. Schooley’s hand, resulting in serious injury. Since the incident, Ms. Schooley has been unable to work or crochet, and her bowling game has suffered.
Although efforts to minimize the injury and characterize the circumstances as unusual (read: “unforeseeable”) seem to be underway, the Michigan Supreme Court took an important step to protect consumers with this recent order. For years, corporations and insurance companies have been seeking to limit their accountability at the expense of individuals. This order gives juries an opportunity to decide when premises owners should be held responsible for their actions. It is not a guarantee that juries will always find landowners accountable – instead it is a chance for injured people to have their day in open court. And that is all Sheri Schooley asks.