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The family of inmate Kenneth Dalstra–who died from drinking too much water due to mental health issues inside a Michigan prison–recently settled their lawsuit in federal court against the Michigan Department of Corrections (DOC). The family sued three prison guards in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids for allowing their mentally unstable son to commit suicide by overdosing himself with water. According to a spokesperson from the DOC, the family received over $1 million in a settlement.


Kenneth was 41 years old when he died of water intoxication at Richard A. Hanlon Correctional Facility. He suffered from psychogenic polydipsia, a pathological compulsion to consume water or other liquids triggered by mental illness. The lawsuit indicates that Kenneth suffered a schizophrenic breakdown in the days preceding his death. He died in April 2014 in the prison in Ionia, Michigan. He was sentenced in November 2013 to 3.5 to 75 years incarceration for criminal sexual conduct.

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On February 28 of this year — just two weeks after beginning a job at an Ann Arbor recycling plant — 47-year-old maintenance technician Earl Roberts’ arm was crushed under a 500-pound gear box. Earl was seriously injured; the incident severed several tendons and muscles in his left forearm. Over the past five months, Earl has seen five doctors, and he’s still on medication to manage the pain. The doctors tell him he will have problems with his left arm for the rest of his life.

recycled paper

Roberts claims that ReCommunity–the North Carolina-based company under contract with Ann Arbor to operate the plant–created an unsafe work environment. What’s more, the plant manager ignored Earl’s prior expression of safety concerns. Last month, Ann Arbor terminated its contract with ReCommunity, due to repeated safety violations. ReCommunity retaliated by suing the city for unlawful breach of contract.

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Last month, sailboat skipper Daniel O’Keefe reportedly sued another captain for allegedly injuring him in a major crash on Lake Michigan. The Ottawa County resident was injured during the Macatawa Bay Yacht Club’s S2 7.9 Class Championship Regatta in August 2014. Race records indicate that O’Keefe was operating a 26-foot boat called “Kaboom,” while the other captain’s similarly-sized boat was called “VOOM!”


O’Keefe almost drowned after being slammed in the chest by the bow of the other boat. Unconscious, he was thrown into the water. O’Keefe broke several ribs and experienced heart failure and a heart contusion. He will require oxygen treatment for life, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit seeks over $1 million in damages.

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The Michigan Court of Appeals recently upheld a prior decision concluding that the lower court improperly granted summary judgment to a defendant in a medical malpractice case, despite the Michigan Supreme Court’s reversal of a case on which the appeals court initially relied. The court reasoned that the reversed case presented a factually distinct situation from the case at hand. operating room

Plaintiffs Alexander Figurski (minor) and Howard Linden (conservator) sued a hospital, a medical group, and doctors, alleging that Figurski suffered a hypoxic-ischemic brain injury and a left middle cerebral arterial ischemic stroke during labor and delivery. The trial court granted the defendants’ motion in limine to exclude the plaintiff’s causation expert concerning claims of malpractice. The trial court therefore granted partial summary disposition as to those claims. The appeals court reversed the trial court’s order and concluded that the trial court exceeded its role as gatekeeper and acted instead as the ultimate trier of fact. It further held that there was sufficient reliable scientific data to support the plaintiff’s expert’s opinion, and summary judgement was therefore improperly granted.

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According to a report published by the Senate Fiscal Agency, the state of Michigan paid roughly $41.8 million in verdicts and settlements in the last fiscal year. This amount is substantially less than what Michigan taxpayers paid last year, but more than the average amount over the past decade.

Michigan doled out over $70 million for lawsuits in 2014, roughly $86 million in 2013, and over $76 million in the previous year. 2012 had a substantial swell in legal payments from 2011, in which the state paid roughly $16 million. In 2006, Michigan paid only $9.4 million. The significant jump from 2011 to 2012 was due to lawsuits over Michigan’s business taxes. Numbers lowered this year because there were no major payments for business tax cases.

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The Michigan Court of Appeals recently affirmed a lower court’s dismissal of a medical malpractice complaint with prejudice due to the expert’s lack of experience.


The plaintiffs alleged that Dr. Kenneth Markiewicz, a board-certified specialist in otorhinolaryngology, was negligent while performing a procedure known as a canaloplasty on plaintiff Robert Walworth’s ear canal to remove bony growths. The canaloplasty required Dr. Markiewicz to use a rotating “Skeeter” drill to remove the bony growths. Following the October procedure, the plaintiff discovered that he had lost virtually all hearing in his right ear. The plaintiffs’ theory of the case was that Dr. Markiewicz allowed the Skeeter drill to contact Walworth’s eardrum, injuring it and resulting in hearing loss.

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The Michigan Court of Appeals recently upheld a lower court’s grant of summary disposition to a defendant insurance company regarding a lawsuit for personal injury protection (PIP) benefits, due to the fraud exclusion in the defendant’s policy.

car accident

Plaintiff Ronald Thomas was involved in a car accident in July 2013. At the time, he was the named insured on a no-fault auto insurance policy issued by the defendant, Frankenmuth Mutual Insurance Company. Thomas received treatment from several medical providers for injuries arising from the accident. The plaintiff’s treating physician, Dr. James Beale, instructed the plaintiff not to drive for a period starting with the day of the accident through January 2014. At his deposition, Thomas denied driving a car at any time during that period. However, surveillance footage collected by the defendant’s employee revealed Thomas driving during that period on two separate occasions. He also used non-emergency medical transportation on both days.

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The Michigan Supreme Court recently reversed a lower court’s grant of summary disposition for a defendant city following a plaintiff’s fall on a poorly maintained public highway.

autumn highway

Plaintiff Barbara Kozak was allegedly injured while traversing a public highway in Lincoln Park when she tripped over an elevation differential between the two slabs of concrete in the center of the street. Kozak sued the city of Lincoln Park pursuant to the “highway exception” to the  governmental tort liability act (GTLA), alleging that the defendant failed to maintain the highway in reasonable repair so that it was reasonably safe and convenient for public travel.

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The widow of a deceased Georgia police officer filed suit after her late husband’s bullet-proof vest failed to protect him while he was working as a security guard in Griffin, Georgia. The widow, Tammy Jordan, filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. She argued that the vest, made by Michigan-based company Armor Express, did not save her late husband because it failed to function in the manner that the company represented it would.

Armed security guard

Officer Kevin Jordan was shot numerous times after intervening in an altercation at a restaurant in May 2014. According to court filings, Jordan was employed as an off-duty security guard when he attempted to restrain a man–Michael Dwyane Bowman–who was combative with the patrons at a Waffle House. Bowman was indicted on  murder and aggravated assault on a police officer and related charges.

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The Michigan Supreme Court recently reinstated a lower court’s grant of summary judgment to a defendant shotgun owner following an accidental shooting because the plaintiff could not establish that any alleged breach constituted the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. shotgun

The case arose from the accidental discharge of a shotgun on the early morning of July 21, 2011. Thirty-year-old defendant Anthony Shafer was living with his grandparents, William and Mary Shafer. William turned the garage into a den where Anthony would entertain his friends. William kept a short-barrel shotgun, loaded with two shells, leaning against a wall in the garage. He was aware of the gun’s existence, that it was loaded, and its location.

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