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Injury victims batted 0 for 3 this week as a police officer's injury claim was dismissed

Clifford Lee sued Robert Croskey and his employer after Croskey failed to yield to Lee's police vehicle while responding to an armed robbery.  Lee was traveling with lights and siren at "55 or 60" miles per hour in a 35 mph zone when Croskey pulled out in front of him.  Lee sued and Croskey argued that the "Firefighters' Rule" as codified in a Michigan statute, precluded Lee from seeking redress for his injuries.

The Firefighters' Rule holds that public safety officers normally cannot sue for the injuries they suffer because of a private party's negligence "in the creation of the reason for the safety officer's presence."  Since Croskey didn't "create" the danger Lee was responding to, it would seem that this common law doctrine would not apply, however, the Michigan statute adopted in 1998 precludes a safety officer from suing any negligent person if the injury or death "arises out of the normal, inherent or foreseeable risks" of the profession.

There are many exceptions to the Michigan statute, and the trial judge concluded that Croskey wasn't entitled to summary disposition because there was a question of fact with regard to whether Lee's vehicle was being operated "in conformity with the laws applicable to the general public."  The Court of Appeals ruled that although the law allowed Lee to exceed the speed limit under the existing circumstances, the "general public" enjoyed no similar right and therefore that particular exception to the Firefighters' Rule did not apply.

Although the trial judge had not ruled on the existence of "gross negligence"--another exception to the Firefighters' Rule--the Court of Appeals concluded that even a record of texting within one minute of the apparent collision did not create a question of fact by suggesting that Croskey was guilty of gross negligence.  Therefore, the Court reversed the trial judge and granted Croskey summary disposition of Lee's injury claim.

So this week, under different circumstances, a cop, a nurse and a trucker were all denied any recourse against the people allegedly responsible for their injuries.  A typical day in Michigan's appellate judiciary.

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