City of Livonia loses argument that defective sidewalk didn't cause fall--"leaves did."
We've seen many obfuscatory defenses over the years, but the City of Livonia's recent effort to avoid responsibility for a defective sidewalk was perhaps the best. When Deborah Mato's toe struck a vertical discontinuity of "two inches or more," causing her to fall and suffer injury, she presented a claim to the City. The City admitted that the sidewalk had a vertical heave that equaled or exceeded the statutory presumption of defect (2"), but argued that the sole cause of the fall was the leaves that obscured or "obfuscated" the defendant City's defective work.
When the trial judge refused to grant summary disposition of her subsequent lawsuit, the City was sufficiently audacious as to appeal to the Court of Appeals....perhaps hoping to draw a couple of anti-victim, pro-insurance judges like Kirsten F. Kelly and Henry Saad. Unfortunately for the City, the assigned judges weren't willing to sustain the City's argument that Mato's legal notice was defective because it "failed to mention" the fallen leaves. They affirmed the lower court's decision denying summary disposition and sent the case back to the trial court for further proceedings.