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Last month, the parents of a 15-year-old filed a federal lawsuit seeking $50 million from a Michigan State Police Officer. The victim died on August 26th after crashing his ATV into a pickup truck. The crash was prompted when the officer, who was trying to get the victim off the road during a chase, reached out of his patrol car and Tasered the victim. The victim was not armed, and it’s against Michigan State Police policy to use a Taser from a moving vehicle. Detroit police are investigating the fatal incident.

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The plaintiffs’ lawyer said the officer shot “like a cowboy” out of his car. The officer’s lawyer said that the victim was driving his ATV dangerously and recklessly to actively evade being arrested. The officer was therefore, according to his attorney, forced to make a split-second decision on the scene during an uncertain, tense, and quickly changing situation. His attorney concluded that the officer was cooperative in the investigation and trusted that the investigators would assess the facts objectively.

The 43-year-old officer joined the Michigan State Police’s Metro Post in 2012, after serving for three years with the Canton Township Police. He graduated from the Wayne County Regional Police Academy in November 2008. He earned his BA from Texas A&M, a Master’s from University of Texas at Arlington, and a JD from Ava Maria School of Law. In June, he was honored by Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority for saving the lives of overdose victims by using Naloxone.

A plaintiff was stopped on I-94 in Michigan when her vehicle was rear-ended by a vehicle driven by an FBI agent. The plaintiff asserted that the impact caused or exacerbated neck and back injuries and sued the federal government pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act. The defendant moved for summary judgment. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan granted in part and denied in part.

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In this Michigan car accident case, the district court explained, the accident occurred on a Michigan highway, and therefore, Michigan law governed the court’s determination of liability and damages. Under Michigan’s No-Fault Act, “tort liability for non-economic loss arising out of the ownership, maintenance, or use of a qualifying motor vehicle is limited to a list of enumerated circumstances.”

The appeals court explained that the defendant discharged their initial summary-judgment burden of showing that the accident was not the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s spinal issues.

The Michigan Appeals Court recently affirmed the lower court’s grant of summary disposition to a defendant in a Michigan boating accident case. Specifically, the appeals court held that the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate a genuine dispute of material fact regarding defective design and failure to warn.

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The plaintiff was injured while pontoon boating in June 2013. Before the accident, her husband purchased a boat hoist and a canopy frame manufactured and sold by defendant NuCraft. He also purchased a vinyl canopy from the defendant. He testified that, at some point before the night of the accident, he spoke with NuCraft’s vice president about how to best install the canopy. He planned to use the hoist and the canopy assembly for a boat that he kept at his mother’s cottage on Lake Margrethe.

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A plaintiff filed a Michigan sports accident case following injuries he sustained while playing softball at a sports complex operated by defendant Canton Township. Another defendant is an employee of Canton Township in its Parks Department who oversees maintenance at the softball fields. A third defendant is also employed by Canton Township as a laborer in the Parks Department, and his duties include daily maintenance of the softball fields. The plaintiff’s injury occurred as he attempted to slide into second base. He alleged that the cause of his injury was the failure of the base to disengage from the mound as designed when he slid into it, which he attributed to the gross negligence of the defendants. The defendants claimed that the injury was a result of his improper slide. The trial court concluded that a genuine issue of material fact existed with regard to whether the defendants engaged in gross negligence that was the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. Additionally, the trial court concluded that defendant Canton Township could be held vicariously liable for any gross negligence of its employees. The defendants appealed from the order of the trial court denying their joint motion for summary disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(7) (governmental immunity), (C)(8) (failure to state a claim), & (C)(10) (no genuine issue of material fact). The Michigan Court of Appeals reversed.

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The appeals court first explained that the trial court’s conclusion that Canton Township could be vicariously liable was clearly erroneous. The Government Tort Liability Act (GTLA) states that “except as otherwise provided in this act, a governmental agency is immune from tort liability if the governmental agency is engaged in the exercise or discharge of a governmental function.” The Michigan Supreme Court has defined the phrase “tort liability” in the GTLA to mean “all legal responsibility arising from a noncontractual civil wrong for which a remedy may be obtained in the form of compensatory damages.” Therefore, the broad grant of immunity provided in the GTLA to governmental agencies includes cases in which a plaintiff seeks to impose tort liability vicariously. The language of the gross negligence exception in the GTLA states that it only applies to officers, employees, volunteers, and members of a board, council, commission, or statutorily created task force. Therefore, unless there is a specifically enumerated exception allowing a lawsuit against the governmental agency, rather than merely its officers or employees, the governmental agency cannot be held vicariously liable for the acts of its employees.

The issue concerning the claim against the employees, the appeals court explained, was whether the plaintiff presented sufficient evidence to create a genuine issue of material fact that they engaged in gross negligence that was the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injury. In his complaint, the plaintiff alleged that the reason the base did not disengage from the mount as designed when he slid into it was because the defendants failed to properly clean the underside of the base and failed to adequately maintain the ground around the base, such that excess dirt and debris built up on the underside of the base and along its outside edges. In support of his position, the plaintiff relied on the deposition testimony of his manager, who testified that, after the plaintiff’s injury, he struck the base with a bat several times, and it did not disengage. The plaintiff also relied on the affidavit of an expert, who averred that a buildup of dirt and residue on the back and lateral sides of the base can cause the base to fail to disengage. The expert concluded that since the base did not disengage when the manager hit it with a bat, there must have been a significant buildup of dirt and debris, which could only have been caused by a failure to properly maintain the base.

The Michigan Supreme Court recently reversed a decision from the Michigan Court of Appeals, holding the appeals court misapplied proximate cause law in determining whether the defendant proximately caused the plaintiff’s injuries.

gavel In the fall of 2011, the then-13-year-old plaintiff was a member of the Chelsea High School cross-country team. Shortly after the season began, the coach held an early morning practice; it was the plaintiff’s first morning practice as a member of the team. The practice began at 5:59 a.m., when it was still dark outside. At the beginning of practice, the coach took the team off school grounds to run. During the run, the team approached an intersection with a two-lane highway. The “Do Not Walk” symbol was illuminated because the traffic light was green for the highway traffic. The coach and the group of runners with him stopped at the intersection. He saw a vehicle in the distance, but he determined that it was far enough away to safely cross. He instructed the runners to cross the intersection by stating, “Let’s go.” It was unclear whether all of the team members heard the instruction. Although most of the team safely crossed the road, a few runners in the back of the group were still in or near the roadway when the vehicle entered the intersection. The vehicle hit the plaintiff and one of his teammates as they were crossing the road. The plaintiff was severely injured, and he has no memory of the accident.

The plaintiffs, the victim and his parents, sued the coach and the driver. The coach moved for summary disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(7), asserting governmental immunity pursuant to the government tort liability act (GTLA). He also moved for summary disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(8) and (10). The trial court denied the defendant’s motion, stating that whether the defendant’s actions were grossly negligent and whether his actions were the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries were questions of fact for the jury to decide.

A Detroit-area resident recently sued Delta Air Lines, arguing it negligently failed to protect her from being molested on her flight home from South Carolina in 2016. She filed the lawsuit in Wayne County Superior Court last month, asking for $10 million in damages.

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A 41-year-old man from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina was sentenced in March after pleading guilty to misdemeanor simple assault and indecent exposure. He was ordered to pay $1,000 in fines, pay $400 in restitution, and spend seven days in jail. The plaintiff claimed the defendant, a long-haul trucker, came over to the seat next to her and slipped his hand up her shorts. She told reporters she was trapped in her window seat and was “frozen with terror.” According to the lawsuit, the defendant told the plaintiff he liked white women and asked where her “man” was. She repeatedly told him to stop. Delta has declined to comment on the lawsuit. The company offered her $2,500 in ticket vouchers.

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Over five years after a man was beaten to death inside the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans, his family is finally getting closure. His survivors reached a financial settlement for $544,000 in their civil lawsuit against the state of Michigan. The state will also cover $281,000 in attorneys fees and court costs. Sadly, however, the victim’s wife, sister, brother, and daughter have all passed since the filing of the lawsuit. The settlement was approved by his other family members in Michigan.

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The victim, a World War II veteran who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, was attacked in April 2012 by another patient. He passed away just days after the attack from injuries he sustained during it, and the Kent County medical examiner ruled it a homicide. The prosecutor, however, did not file criminal charges. The prosecutor reasoned that he did not wish to compound the tragedy by prosecuting the suspect, who was also in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s and dementia. He concluded that prosecuting him in addition would accomplish nothing, particularly since he likely has no memory of the attack.

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A plaintiff appealed an Oakland Circuit Court order granting summary disposition in favor of the defendant in a premises liability action. Holding the plaintiff failed to establish that he was the defendant’s tenant or that the defendant had notice of the alleged dangerous condition, the Michigan Appeals Court affirmed.

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In February 2014, the plaintiff drove to the defendant’s clubhouse to pay rent. As he walked back toward his car, he slipped on a patch of ice, fell, and was seriously injured. The plaintiff sued the defendant property owner/manager for negligence and a violation of his statutory duties. The defendant moved for summary disposition, arguing that it had no actual or constructive knowledge of the ice. The defendant further asserted that neither of the statutory violations alleged by the plaintiff applied. The trial court agreed, granted the defendant’s motion, and dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint. The plaintiff appealed.

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A plaintiff, suing on behalf of his deceased son’s estate, appealed an order granting summary disposition in favor of the defendant school officials in a case stemming from his son’s suicide. The appeals court affirmed the lower court’s holding for the defendants.

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In March 2012, the son was a 17-year-old senior at Marysville High School when he was suspected of stealing a teacher’s laptop. Instead of contacting the police and pursuing criminal charges, as advised by the school district’s attorney, the matter was handled as a school discipline issue.

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A defendant appealed from the order of the trial court denying her motion for summary disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(7) (governmental immunity). The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court’s judgment, holding that the plaintiff presented sufficient evidence to create a genuine issue of material fact on the elements of both gross negligence and proximate cause.

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The plaintiff brought suit after she sustained severe injuries to her hand while operating a table saw during a woodshop class that the defendant taught at Lakeville High School. She alleged that her injuries were caused by the defendant’s actions in removing a blade guard from the table saw, encouraging students to operate the table saw without the blade guard, and on the day of her injury, specifically directing the plaintiff to make a cut on the table saw that she had never before attempted without any supervision and without the presence of the blade guard.

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