Michigan Supreme Court Republican majority reverses Court of Appeals; dismisses injury claim against mining firm
Under a unique agreement, the State Department of Transportation leased land from O-N Minerals Company underlying M-134 in the U.P., and built a reinforced crossing site for the Minerals company to use when crossing the highway. The O-N vehicles crossing the highway included very heavy and tracked vehicles and they severely damaged M-134 at the crossing site. Debra K. McCue was very badly hurt when she attempted to bike across the site during a DALMAC bike tour and her husband brought a wrongful death survival claim against O-N. He claimed that O-N was negligent in tearing up the crossing site, failing to repair it and failing to notify the State of the damage it had caused. The Court of Appeals agreed with McCue and rejected O-N's effort to dismiss the claim. On appeal, the four insurance-oriented Michigan Supreme Court Justices overturned the lower court's decision and dismissed McCue's claim.The Republican majority held that O-N owed the public no duty to repair a State Highway, regardless of whether they had caused the damage involved. It also held that McCue could not sue because his wife had not suffered damage different from the damage to which the general public was exposed. The three dissenting Justices pointed out that in previous cases, the standard had required the injury victim to have suffered damage different than the damage actually suffered by the public. The minority dissenters would have deemed the crossing a public nuisance and held the mining company responsible for its unsafe condition.