Catastrophically burned journeyman can sue Detroit employees for gross negligence
Mark Roseman, a 29-year old father of two, was catastrophically burned and permanently disabled by an electrical fire in the manhole where he was attempting to repair a failed electrical cable. The facts leading to the fire are recounted in Mark A. Roseman and Luzater Roseman v. City of Detroit, et al. Suffice it to say that Roseman's supervisor and others had allowed a very dangerous condition to develop and persist for years, and despite repeated warnings, had failed to take any action to protect Roseman and other journeyman electricians who were knowingly exposed to tremendous danger.
When Roseman sued the responsible individuals, alleging gross negligence, the City sought summary disposition, arguing that he could not prove gross negligence or that the City was "the" cause of his injuries. It cited several very restrictive decisions recently handed down by Michigan's insurance-friendly appellate courts. The judge denied the City's motion.
The sitting panel of the Court of Appeals rejected the City's appeal, holding that there was ample evidence upon which a jury might find that the supervisory employees were guilty of gross negligence that was the cause of Roseman's injuries. It pointed out that unlike one prior precedent, in this case, the defendants' allegedly negligent actions actually CAUSED the fire that injured Roseman.
Don't be surprised, however, if the Republican majority on Michigan's Supreme Court over-turns this decision. Injury victims simply do not win cases in Michigan's Supreme Court--regardless of the facts.