Attached is the amicus curiae brief I prepared and filed on behalf of the Michigan Municipal League’s Legal Defense Fund in conjunction with the Michigan Municipal League Liability and Property Pool (MMLLPP), the Michigan Townships Association (MTA), Wayne County, Macomb County, and Oakland County.
The case is Hagerty et al. v. Manistee County Road Commission, Supreme Court Docket No. 146047, which is seeking to challenge a Court of Appeals ruling concerning application of the “highway exception” to governmental immunity.
The Court of Appeals held that a “dust cloud” that transpired on a dirt road, which was allegedly caused by a motorist traveling in the opposite direction, was sufficient to implicate the highway exception to governmental immunity. MCL 691.1402. The Court of Appeals held that the dust cloud was caused by the negligence of the county because of the condition of the roadway. The panel also concludes that under these circumstances a “dust cloud” qualified as an arguable “defect” in the roadway within the meaning of the highway exception to governmental immunity. MCL 691.1402(1).
However, as pointed out in my brief, a well-developed body of jurisprudence places significant limits on the ability to pursue claims against the government for alleged defects in highways. In fact, the Supreme Court has defined “defect” in a manner which requires a demonstration that the defect is persistent, exists at all times in the actual roadbed, and that it be the sole cause of the alleged injury. There are also additional limitations on both the definition of “roadbed” and the manner in which a person can successfully plead a cause of action under the highway exception.
Based on this jurisprudence, I argue that the Court of Appeals goes too far in concluding that an alleged dust cloud, kicked up by an alleged passing motorist, obscured the decedent’s vision causing her to crash.
You can read more about the lawsuit in my previous blog about the case, which contains the Court of Appeals opinion link here: Court of Appeals Decision in Hagerty v. Manistee County Road Commission
Here is the brief I filed in the Supreme Court: (FINAL) (MML) Amicus Brief