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City cannot avoid liability by claiming garbage truck stopped to load is not "operating" under statute

Alexus Strozier was hurt in a collision between her school bus and a Flint City garbage truck.  Her mother, Abby, filed an injury suit against the school district and the City Sanitation Department.  The City tried to dismiss the case, arguing that it's truck was stopped at the time of the collision and therefore not "operating."  It also sought a ruling by the court that a child's observations of the collision were not admissible.

The trial judge denied both motions and the Court of Appeals unanimously confirmed.  It held that the child's observations were properly responsive to appropriate questions and admissible.  It rejected the suggestion that a garbage truck stopped by the side of the road is not "operating."  While some prior cases had granted governmental vehicles immunity if an injury was suffered while the vehicle was in maintenance, this panel ruled that the reasonable interpretation of "operation" included normal actions beyond driving down a public highway.
Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
309 East Front Street
Traverse City, Michigan 49684
Toll Free: 1-800-678-1307
Fax: 231-929-7262