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Dump truck parked in dangerous location was not "operated"

In another example of the semantic fictions to which some courts have resorted to achieve "tort reform", the Court of Appeals recently ruled that an allegedly dangerously located Department of Transportation  [MDOT] dump truck had not been "operated" as a motor vehicle.  In Brumfield v. LaBair and MDOT, the plaintiff was precluded from offering testimony that the MDOT truck he rear-ended in the left lane of the Lodge Freeway moved slowly into his lane, because he had failed to timely answer Requests for Admission.  As a result, he was limited to arguing that even if the truck was stationary, as alleged by the defendant driver, its location rendered it unsafe for approaching motorists.  The Court ruled that if it wasn't being operated at the time of the accident, the Department was immune from a negligence claim because parking the truck in a stupid location does not constitute the "negligent operation of a motor vehicle." 

Try using that same logic with the officer who wants to arrest you for drunk driving  or negligently causing an accident, if you pass out with your car in a traveled portion of the highway:  any fifth grader would know that if you did park in a stupid location, the accident you caused was a result of your "negligent operation of the vehicle."  Sadly, this interpretation of the statute may be compelled by the decisions of the Engler Supreme Court when it was dominated by conservative activists. 

The Court also upheld the lower court's conclusion that even if the vehicle violated professional guidelines in its operation, did not display appropriate warning signs, and abruptly moved at slow speed into the "fast lane" of the freeway from the shoulder, these facts did not create a fact question of gross negligence by the  driver for the jury to resolve and did not suggest that the MDOT driver was "the" cause of the collision.

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