Court denies SMART and its driver summary disposition
Lorine Branyon was injured in a vehicle collision at Eight Mile and Gratiot. Her attorneys sued both involved drivers. SEMTA and its driver sought summary disposition. They argued that the bus became trapped between two traffic control signals and was forced to enter the second "twin" intersection in front of the oncoming motorist. They argued that having been trapped between the two signals, but having entered the twin intersections first, the bus enjoyed the right of way, obligating the opposing motorist to yield.
The trial judge analyzed the facts of the twin intersection and ruled that the testimony presented a question of fact for the jury. He concluded that if the second light was solid red for the bus driver when he entered the second intersection, a jury could reasonably conclude that the bus was operated negligently. He also held that given the relative risks involved, a jury could conclude that it was gross negligence to operate a bus into an intersection against a solid red light, where opposing traffic had a green light. The Court of Appeals unanimously agreed with the trial judge's analysis.