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Court decides Rowland decision applies to all "notice" cases; claim against DOT dismissed

Hartford Insurance and Sedgwick Claims Management Services made a substantial damage payment to the Hometown Hardware Store, after it suffered damages allegedly as a result of a Michigan Department of Transportation employee's negligence.  Although the Plaintiffs never provided the DOT with a required notice of injury [due within six months of the incident], all parties apparently conceded that the DOT had actual notice of the damages allegedly caused by its employee's negligence.  Hartford and Sedgwick, relying upon a series of cases from the 70s, 80s and 90s, argued that since the DOT had suffered no prejudice by reason of the lack of formal notice, they should be entitled to pursue their claim.

The Court of Appeals disagreed, holding that the Engler Majority's 2007 Rowland v. Washtenaw County Road Commission case should be applied to all governmental notice statutes.  The latter decision pver-ruled several decades of high court opinions that had invalidated the notice requirement where no prejudice resulted from lack of notice.  Under Rowland, the Court does not look to the purpose of the notice provision or concepts of fairness, and looks only to whether the claimant has complied with the precise language of the statute.

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