City of Warren's repudiation of sidewalk responsibility is rejected by Court of Appeals
In Michigan municipalities are liabile for injuries caused by defects in highways and sidewalks, pursuant to statute. This liability includes both highways, sidewalks and crosswalks, but does not include medians or other areas not designed for public travel (by cars or pedestrians). Gail Larochelle fell in a paved area leading from a sidewalk to a crosswalk. The City of Warren argued that it should not be responsible for defects in this area, which it likened to a driveway or parking area.The trial court and the Court of Appeals rejected the City's claim, noting that the area of the fall adjoined a pedestrian crosswalk but did not serve a private driveway or parking lot. As a result, the area of the defect fell squarely within the statutory exception to governmental immunity.
The Court also noted that there was ample evidence to create a question of fact with regard to whether the defect had existed for more than 30 days, thus providing conclusive evidence of "notice" of the defect to the City under the statute.