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Court of Appeals judges refuse to apply Republican repudiation of "substantial compliance" to dismiss injury claim

Michigan's Republican Supreme Court majority have pretty much repudiated the long-standing Michigan public policy requiring "substantial compliance" with governmental immunity notice provisions.  The Republicans have reversed this longstanding policy, overturned the existing precedent, and thrown out any case where a defect can be identified in a required notice---even if the defect is so minimal or technical as to be considered nonsensical.  In the case of Kelli M. Davis v. City of Flint, the Court of Appeals panel refused to extend the Supreme Court's policy in a case where Davis was injured by a defective sidewalk.

The City of Flint sought summary disposition of Davis' claim, arguing that her timely notice did not specify the exact location adequately and that it didn't identify potential witnesses. The  judges unanimously rejected this argument, pointing out that the notice contained a clear verbal description of the location, a "very detailed" diagram showing where the defective sidewalk was located, and the name of "known witnesses."  The City's claim was that the attached photographs and diagram of the defect were not adequate because they MUST BE INCORPORATED INTO THE NOTICE DOCUMENT, ITSELF.    We do not make these claims up!  The Court of Appeals would have laughed at this proposition in a different era:  with the Republicans in charge of the Supreme Court, however, no insurer assertion can be laughed off, even if it "has no rational basis" [as the Court of Appeals concluded here].

The City also argued that dismissal would be appropriate because at her deposition the plaintiff identified a motorist who stopped to help her, but she didn't list this person as a witness in the original notice.  The Court pointed out that since Davis did not think the motorist saw her fall or that he examined the defect in the sidewalk, she did not think to identify him in the notice; the Court found this to be an adequate explanation and the Notice to be in substantial compliance with the law. 

Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
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Traverse City, Michigan 49684
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