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Court sends case against Consumers Power back for jury trial

Capitol Insurance Corporation sued Consumers Power Company after it paid damage claims arising out of a fire at Brooklyn Manor, LLC, in Jackson County.  The plaintiff argued that the fire was caused by the lack of a ground on a transformer located adjacent to the apartment complex.  Consumers initially admitted the pole was ungrounded, but later argued, based on a post-repair investigation, that the pole was properly grounded.  The plaintiff sought summary disposition based in part on the allegation that Consumers was engaged in an "ultrahazardous" activity.  The Defendant sought summary disposition based on its claim that a MPSC tariff granted it immunity for variations in service.

The trial judge granted Consumers summary disposition on the latter ground and the Court of Appeals reversed.  It held that issues of material fact precluded summary disposition for either party, and that the allegations against Consumers did not constitute a "variation in service characteristics" as the term is used in tariff law.

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