Articles Posted in Gross Negligence

A public park patron filed suit after being struck by a rock thrown from a passing lawnmower. The Michigan appeals court reversed the circuit court’s denial of the defendants’ motion for summary disposition, concluding the patron made no allegation rising to the level necessary to prevent the defendants’ use of governmental immunity.


On May 20, 2013, the plaintiff visited Williams Island beach with her family. They sat at a picnic table. Approximately 30 minutes later, a Yates Township maintenance crew arrived. A Yates Township employee was tasked with cutting the grass using a riding lawnmower. The plaintiff asserted that on his first pass, the employee drove the power mower within 10 feet of the picnic table, causing dust and debris to be thrown into the air. As a result, the plaintiff and her family decided to leave. The plaintiff alleged that before they could retreat, the employee drove by again within a few yards. A rock shot out from the mower and struck the plaintiff between the eyes on the forehead. She suffered a fracture to the left nasal bone as well as swelling and bruising around her eyes and nose.

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Kristy Bastine, a Westland police officer, sued the city of Dearborn Heights, the city of Southfield, and Dearborn Heights Police Officer Tim Ciochon after being injured while participating in SWAT training in 2012. In a recent decision, the Michigan Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s grant of summary disposition to the defendants, reasoning that the statutory firefighter rule barred the plaintiffs’ claims.

SWAT team

In 2012, Kristy became a member of Westland’s SWAT team. During the subsequent SWAT training, the trainees were told to quickly get into a general purpose vehicle (GPV), a heavy-duty assault vehicle driven by Ciochon. Kristy testified that when she entered the vehicle, she looked for a seat belt but could not find one. Although the testimony of the witnesses varied, the evidence indicated that shortly before returning to the starting point, the GPV hit an object, probably a tree stump. The impact caused Kristy to fly off her seat, hit the roof with the back of her helmet, fall forward, and hit her chin and teeth on something inside the GPV. She was later diagnosed with a spinal fracture and traumatic brain injury.

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In April 2014, plaintiff David Alvarez plummeted from a rock climbing wall at LifeTime Fitness Center in Novi, Michigan. Alvarez had taken his family to the center. Neither his wife nor daughter had climbed before, and everyone signed a waiver releasing Lifetime from liability for negligence. Alvarez fell from the climbing wall because his harness was on backwards and was hooked incorrectly to the belay system. Shortly thereafter, he filed suit in Oakland County Circuit Court.


Alvarez suffered numerous injuries to his legs and back during the fall. In the lawsuit, he argued that the LifeTime employee was “grossly negligent” in failing to determine whether Alvarez had correctly fastened his harness and belay system before instructing Alvarez to climb. Once he had reached the top of the wall, Alvarez asked the employee how to get down and was told: “just let go.” After letting go, the harness failed and Alvarez fell to the ground, seriously injuring himself.

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A Michigan appellate court recently upheld a trial court’s grant of summary judgment for the defendants in a high school sports injury case, reasoning the plaintiff did not provide sufficient evidence of gross negligence and proximate cause. baseball

The injury occurred at Avondale High School in February 2011. Plaintiff Ian Raber and a fellow high school student were playing catch with a baseball during gym, when a baseball nicked the edge of Raber’s glove and collided with his unprotected chest. Raber began to make convulsive, jerking motions before collapsing on the floor. Some of the other students ran from the gym to locate defendant Kourtney Thompson, a baseball coach and social studies teacher who was tasked with overseeing the gym. Kourtney had left the students unsupervised to use the restroom and visit his classroom. Thompson ran back to the gym, determined that the plaintiff was still breathing, and called 911. Observing some jerking motions, Thompson concluded that the plaintiff might have been suffering from a seizure. He cleared the area around the plaintiff to wait for paramedics to arrive. He did not check the plaintiff’s breathing or pulse again, although the plaintiff’s face and lips were turning gray or blue. He did not perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or attempt to employ an automatic external defibrillator (AED).

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