Detailed Notice of Injury not adequate; case dismissed for failure to identify potential witnesses
Patricia Colflesh tripped and fell on a public sidewalk in the Village of Lexington in Sanilac County. Within a week, she filled out the Village's Incident Report form. She supplemented that form a couple of weeks later. She described the location where she fell by street address, adding that it was "in front of Old Fudge Shop." She described the defect as "uneven" and "unlevel" sections of sidewalk.
The City argued her claim should be dismissed because she didn't further and more explicitly describe the location or the defects, and because she didn't list her daughter and grandsons as witnesses on the form or in her letter. Coleflesh explained that she didn't list the three family members as witnesses because none actually saw her strike her toe on the uneven sidewalk--and because the Defendant's Notice of Incident didn't ask for the names of witnesses.The Court of Appeals pointed out that the Republican majority of Michigan's Supreme Court has reversed the law requiring a governmental defendant to show that it was prejudiced by inexact compliance with the statutory notice requirement. The Republican majority changed the law, rejecting a simple showing of substantial compliance by the injury victim. Applying these standards, the Court held that while the description of the defect and the location were adequate--despite the Village's objections--the failure to list her family as witnesses was fatal to Colflesh's claim. It was permanently dismissed.