Men who erected a "cable gate" trap over private road are deemed not guilty of gross negligence
Thomas Schoonbeck was severely injured when his dirtbike collided with a "cable gate" on private property in Muskegon County. The property adjoined state land and the men who erected the "gate" had become irritated with trespassers mistaking their land for the contiguous public land. They put "No Trespassing" signs on the corners of the parcel and a small sign on the cable itself.
Schoonbeck approached from the opposite direction and did not see the cable and sign in time to avoid it. He argued that it constituted a "trap" and that it was gross negligence to erect it across the road with insufficient warning. The Court of Appeals judges rejected Schoonbeck's appeal, ruling that the trial judge properly granted summary disposition of the gross negligence claim. The simply decided that the property occupiers had "done enough." The injured man's facts weren't sufficient to support an argument that the occupiers "did not care about the welfare of others." In the past, this kind of decision was deemed one for jurors to make.