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Court upholds ruling that Road Commission had adequate notice of highway defect

The Oakland County Road Commission appealed a local judge's holding that Joseph Paletta's injury lawsuit could go forward; it argued that Paletta had not satisfied his duty to prove that the Road Commission had notice of the alleged road defect. It also argued that since the defect was loose gravel on the highway, it did not involve the "road bed" and therefore the Road Commission owed no duty to cure the defect.

The Court reviewed the evidence proffered by Paletta, who was injured when he lost control of his motorcycle in loose gravel.  The judges noted that Paletta presented evidence from a local resident who claimed that the Road Commission's trucks habitually left loose gravel in the subject location and that he had complained to the Road Commission about the problem "five or six" times prior to Paletta's injury. 

The appellate judges agreed with the lower court that this evidence was adequate to create a genuine issue of fact with regard to the Road Commission's notice of the defect.  It also pointed out that since the Road Commission's vehicles allegedly CREATED the defect, notice would be IMPUTED to the Commission.  Lastly, the judges held that although Republican activist Justices had interpreted the "reasonably safe highway" statute to eliminate any duty of the road authority to maintain traffic control devices or signs, they had not eliminated the duty of the road authority to remove highway obstructions from the roadway--where adequate notice was proved.

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