Even though City inspected area that day, fall victim's notice wasn't adequate
James Wodtke sued the City of Howell after he fell into a very deep hole between the street and a storm drain. Wodtke called the City immediately after his fall and reported the location of the hole. City workers inspected and barricaded the location, although they disputed Wodtke's estimate of the depth of the hole. Several months later Wodtke sued the City for compensation for his injuries.
The City raised Wodtke's failure to give written notice of the defect as a defense and secured dismissal of his claim. On appeal, the Court upheld the dismissal since Wodtke had not complied with the terms of the notice statute, regardless of whether the City had suffered any resulting prejudice. It noted that filing a written notice would also have required him to list as a witness the woman who observed his fall.
Wodtke also suggested that due to his bipolar disorder he was not competent to give the statutory notice, however, he did not document his medical incompetency. The Court ruled that his alleged lack of mental competency did not extend the 120 day notice period.