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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.

ear

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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The Michigan intermediate court recently upheld a lower court’s decision against a plaintiff attorney and former law professor in a case involving a parody Twitter account. computer

Todd Levitt is a lawyer and former professor at Central Michigan University. CMU students are his firm’s primary clientele. Levitt marketed his firm heavily on Twitter. The former account announced him as a “badass lawyer.” Levitt posted frequently about drugs and alcohol. For example, he posted about serving Jim Bean in class and about his relationship with “mommy marijuana.”

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Plaintiffs Fred St. Onge and Karen Ross were hit by a State of Michigan vehicle driven by defendant Ramona G. Smith, an employee of the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA). The lower court granted summary disposition to Smith, pursuant to the Governmental Tort Liability Act (GTLA), reasoning that Smith was entitled to governmental immunity because she was acting within the scope of employment when the crash occurred. The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed.Lake Superior

One afternoon in September 2011, Smith inspected a nursing home in Negaunee as part of her employment with LARA. She was permitted to stay in a hotel that night rather than driving home. On her way to the hotel in Munising, Smith turned left on US-41 in front of the plaintiffs’ oncoming car.

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iceThe Michigan Court of Appeals recently ruled that the black ice on which a plaintiff was injured was open and obvious, triggering no legal duty for the defendants to exercise reasonable care and rendering summary judgment appropriate.

In February 2011, plaintiff Trawmisha Toney visited Eastland Mall in Harper Woods, which is owned and operated by the defendants. While traversing the parking lot, Toney slipped on ice and was injured. She sued for premises liability, alleging the defendants had violated their duty to warn her of a dangerous situation on their property — specifically, black ice.

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