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Court issues difficult-to-believe ruling, concluding notice to City was inadequate

Andrea Jones sought to sue the City of Pontiac after suffering injury in a fall on an allegedly defective sidewalk.  Under the governmental immunity rules, a sidewalk is included in the "highway exception" to governmental immunity, but a formal notice must be sent to the municipality within 120 days. Jones sent a timely notice by registered mail. Her notice said her injury occurred on the city sidewalk, directly across the street from 47200 Woodward, and across the street from the school administation building (where the sign is located) and on the side of the Phoenix Buildling.  She also attached photographs depicting two circled areas, including "a close-up picture of an obviously cracked and uneven sidewalk."

The Court held this notice, which was allegedly supplemented with a second letter, was defective because: 1.  it was addressed to the Risk Manager, rather than the Mayor, Clerk or city attorney; 2.  it did not "describe the exact location of the injury;" and 3.  Jones did not identify her husband as a witness to the incident.  Apparently providing the above particulars within a 340' section of road is not "exact" enough. Prior to the Republican domination of the Michigan Supreme Court, the test was whether there was substantial compliance with the notice provision or any prejudice suffered by the municipality as a result of a "defective" notice:  the Republican insurance-friendly judges threw out that collected wisdom and require a "perfect" notice, regardless of prejudice.

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