Injured grandmother cannot sue school for negligent design of gym
A grandmother who fell from gymnasium risers attempted to sue the school for negligent design of the gym where she watched her daughter perform. While governmental units normally enjoy "immunity" from their errors or negligence, by statute they remain liable for negligent operation of motor vehicles and for defects in public buildings.
The Engler Majority restrictively interpreted this latter broad duty to limit the governmental entity's responsiblity to negligent maintenance of the facility, in the Renny v. Department of Transportation case. In reaching this conclusion, the notoriously pro-insurance majority of the Taylor Court chose to reverse prior interpretations and to emphasize the "obligation to repair and maintain" language, to the exclusion of the express language requiring the governmental entity to protect the public from the "dangerous or defective condition[s]". The Court of Appeals felt compelled to apply the Renny limitation in Hetherington v. U of M Regents, thereby immunizing the school from the allegedly negligent elements of the gym design.