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Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Injured pedestrian not TPB of snow contract

Michigan_flag_1 A pedestrian who slips on ice is not a third-party beneficiary of contract between the owner and the snow-removal contractor, according to a recent decision by a federal district court in Michigan.

Plaintiff Rhonda Massey slipped on some "black ice" on a sidewalk outside a building that housed the U.S. Army's Tank-Automotive and and Armament Command, known as TACOM, on February 7, 2002.  Defendant Raytheon Technical Services had a contract to clear all snow and ice from the premises in order to avoid safety hazards.  Massey, claiming that she was a third-party beneficiary of the snow-removal contract, sued Raytheon for her injuries.

The court analyzed the question under a specific Michigan statute relating to third-party beneficiaries, which provided:

A promise shall be construed to have been made for the benefit of a person whenever the promisor of said promise had undertaken to give or to do or refrain from doing something directly to or for said person.

This standard requires, said Judge Robert H. Cleland, an "express promise (i.e., written or verbal) . . . which designates Plaintiff as a third-party beneficiary."  Since the contract did not mention the plaintiff or the class to which she belonged, she was not a third-party beneficiary.

Massey v. Raytheon Technical Services Co., 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12581 (E.D. MI, June 27, 2005).

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