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March 11, 2004 - Jogger loses appeal in slip-and-fall case St. Clair Shores is not required to keep sidewalks clear of mud

Tina Calamita fractured her left hand when she slipped and fell on a muddy sidewalk while jogging in 1998.

The state Court of Appeals has ruled that Calamita, 34, cannot collect damages from the city of St. Clair Shores for not preventing the muddy mess.

The appellate judges said the suburb was responsible for making sure the sidewalk wasn't in disrepair but didn't have a duty to keep it free of mud - which Calamita claimed in court papers caused her to fall.

The ruling on Wednesday ends a 5-year-old case that also was reviewed by the state Supreme Court.

The accident happened when Calamita, a state casino commission employee, was running on Masonic near Harper on Jan. 2, 1998. She hit a slick, muddy spot on a sidewalk, fell and broke her left hand in several places, said her attorney, Michael Cafferty.

"She has lost the use of several fingers," Cafferty said.

But the appellate judges determined the city only had to make sure the sidewalk was "in reasonable repair" and sent the case back to Macomb Circuit Judge Deborah Servitto for dismissal.

Servitto had denied the city's motion to dismiss the case in 1999. But the city took the case to the Supreme Court. The high court sent the case back to the appellate judges because new case law in 2000 determined that municipalities are negligent only if they fail to keep sidewalks "in reasonable repair."

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