Articles Posted in Negligence

A plaintiff appealed the trial court’s order granting the defendant’s motion for summary disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(10). Holding that there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the plaintiff was more than 50 percent at fault for the accident, the Michigan appeals court reversed and remanded.At around 9:15 p.m. on November 2, 2013, the plaintiff was walking home from the Applebee’s restaurant where he worked. He testified that he was walking northbound on Monroe Street, while the defendant was driving northbound on Monroe Street, talking on his cell phone with his girlfriend. The defendant’s vehicle struck the plaintiff near the intersection of Monroe Street and LaSalle Road, severely injuring him.

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The husband of a woman killed by robotic machinery at her factory job is suing for wrongful death. The federal lawsuit seeks $75,000 from the companies linked to the equipment. (Pursuant to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, federal courts can hear cases between citizens of different states only when the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75,000. (28 U.S.C. § 1332(a).)) The case raises the strange but increasingly relevant question of who should be held liable when robots injure or kill human staff.The victim was killed in July 2015 at Ventra Iona Main, an auto parts factory where she worked. Ventra Iona performs stamping of bumpers as well as welding, and it was recently fined by the state for workplace violations preceding the victim’s death. For 12 years, the victim made a good living and supported her husband as a journeyman maintenance mechanic for Ventra. She was succeeding in a male-dominated industry and carved out a specialty of fixing robots when things went wrong.

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Over 1,700 Flint residents have filed suit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The class action lawsuit accuses Flint officials of negligently mismanaging the city’s water crisis. The lawsuit comes just as President Trump plans to eviscerate the budget of the EPA. The plaintiff class filed suit in U.S. District Court in Michigan.The water crisis originated in 2014 after the city switched its water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River and failed to ensure that corrosion inhibitors were used to stop leaching into Flint’s pipes. The crisis has resulted in a large number of lawsuits that could cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in damages. According to experts, the only “deep pocket” near Flint is the State of Michigan. The crisis could therefore become a tax liability for Michigan citizens. 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.

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A man was injured when his truck was struck from behind by a police cruiser driven by the defendant, an employee of Charter Township of Genesee. The plaintiff had been attempting to make a left turn and apparently was using his turn signal when the defendant, who had been following him, attempted to pass him on the left. The defendant moved for summary disposition, arguing that the plaintiff did not sustain a serious impairment of a body function that affected his general ability to live his normal life and that their conduct did not amount to gross negligence. The trial court granted the motion. The appeals court reversed and remanded, finding the trial court’s conclusion that the defendant was not grossly negligent to be unconvincing.Pursuant to MCL 691.1407(2), the defendant would be immune from tort liability unless his conduct “amount[ed] to gross negligence that [was] the proximate cause of the injury or damage.” He claimed that he believed the plaintiff was pulling off the road to the right, whereas the plaintiff claimed he had properly activated his left turn signal. Given the critical question of fact, the appeals court could not “conceive of how defendants ha[d] the chutzpah” to contend that the defendant’s conduct was anything but so blatantly reckless as to demonstrate a substantial lack of concern for whether an injury would result.

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The Michigan Court of Appeals recently reversed a trial court’s denial of summary disposition for a defendant dog owner, reasoning the defendant did not breach a duty of care owed to the plaintiff Fed Ex employee.In August 2012, the defendant was reading in his back yard with his dog, who was leashed on a cable that was anchored to the garage. The dog, who was part chow and part pit bull, had a tendency to bark at strangers, but she had never bitten or attacked anyone. The defendant had never received any complaints about her from his neighbors, nor had animal control been called regarding her.

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Shortly before attempting to hang herself at Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility, 25-year-old inmate Janika Edmond asked prison guards for a suicide prevention vest, a restrictive smock with Velcro used to prevent someone from being able to hurt themselves. State corrections officers Dianna Callahan and Kory Moore ignored her plea for help.Instead, the officers began talking between themselves about a bet they had placed on when Edmond would ask for a vest. Callahan won the bet, so she began taunting Moore about how she now owed her a Subway sandwich. Callahan can be heard on security video at the prison, shouting “Somebody owes me lunch.”

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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.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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Grand Rapids citizen Steven J. Moerman filed suit against the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC), claiming he was raped by a social worker while he was incarcerated for drug charges. Moerman filed suit in September in Jackson County Circuit Court. Moerman alleged violations by MDOC, the social worker, and several state officials.The lawsuit claims the social worker, Susan Clingerman, used the inmate “as the object of her own sexual gratification” and desperately wished to get pregnant. Clingerman contends that the relationship was consensual, and Moerman is simply trying to make money with the lawsuit.

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Michigan resident Lindsey Bresnahan is suing Jimmy John’s after allegedly suffering a serious allergic reaction to a sandwich containing Dijon mustard. Bresnahan filed suit in federal court in Grand Rapids last month.The complaint alleges that Bresnahan has been unable to speak above a whisper since the incident occurred. The offending sandwich was delivered to her job at a financial loan office from a Comstock Park franchise this summer. She ordered a “Bill Club unwich,” which uses lettuce in lieu of bread and contains roast beef, provolone cheese, smoked ham, tomato, lettuce, mayonnaise, and Dijon mustard. Bresnaham claims she specifically asked Jimmy John’s to omit the mayonnaise and Dijon. (Bresnahan discovered her Dijon allergy roughly a year before the incident.) Soon after biting into her sandwich, she quickly realized that both condiments had erroneously been included. Bresnahan immediately began experiencing symptoms, such as coughing, watering eyes, and her throat starting to close.

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