Insurer argues all information must be in notice, second timely notice inadequate
Last week the Court of Appeals rejected the Michigan Municipal Management Authority's attempt to throw out a defective roadway case. The injured woman, Wilhelmena Burise, had filed her Notice of Injury, but did not list all known witnesses. Within the short, 120 day deadline, however, she recognized her mistake and filed an amended notice listing her companion who observed the incident. The insurer attempted to take advantage of this technicality to dismiss her claim against the City of Pontiac, with prejudice, and without any recourse. The insurer argued Wilhelmina had to include all of her information within a single mailing and was limited to "one attempt" at notice. The Court of Appeals rejected the insurer's argument.
While Justice Taylor led a voting block on the Supreme Court that rewarded this kind of nonsense, insurers argued every possible grounds for dismissal, whether they were reasonable or sound, often with success. Since Taylor was "fired" by voters, the Courts seem to be taking a more reasoned, and more common sense approach to technical defenses. The rule that "victims always lost and insurers always won" seems to have been leavened somewhat. Sadly, the Court also held that if Burise's original notice had not been supplemented, her claim would have been dismissed because of the inadvertent failure to identify the companion witness: a residue of the earmark of the Taylor court, that is, a willingness to elevate form over substance and a callous disregard for the consequences of this legalistic activism upon ordinary people, remains.