Another over-reaching governmental entity is smacked down
Joel Peterson sued the Mount Morris school district after one of its buses allegedly ran a stop sign, forcing him to leave the road and crash. Over-confident from reading a rash of pro-insurance and pro-government rulings by Michigan's Supreme Court, the insurer for the school district sought summary disposition of all non-economic damage claims brought by Peterson. The trial judge granted the defendants summary disposition of all claims for "mental and emotional anguish, fright, traumatic shock and embarrassment" but that didn't go far enough for the insurer. It appealed to the Court of Appeals, seeking judgment that Peterson could not collect any damages for pain or suffering resulting from his injuries.
While the action was pending on appeal, the Supreme Court ruled that governmental entities were over-reaching in arguing that their liability for "bodily injury" should be limited to claims to economic damages, only. Thus, when it came time for the appellate court to issue an opinion in Peterson's case, the Supreme Court had already undercut not only the school's insurer's argument on appeal, but also its underlying partial summary disposition.
The Appeals panel rejected the school's insurer's appeal and also overturned the lower court's limitation on the recovery of "mental and emotional" damages--despite the fact that Peterson's attorneys had inexplicably failed to appeal that partial ruling. It found that the Supreme Court's ruling "indisputably" supported reversal of that decision.