Notice of Defect
The first week of May, the Michigan Supreme Court continued its assault on precedent, when 4 of the 7 Justices decided to overturn more than thirty years of precedent in dealing with the statutory immunity granted to governmental entities. One of the statutes addressing immunity in Michigan requires that governmental entities receive actual notice of an injury within sixty days of the date of injury. Several decades ago, the Supreme Court addressed this issue in a series of cases, and held that the governmental entity could raise the issue of compliance with these notice requirements only if the governmental entity suffered actual prejudice as a result of the injured person's failure to give notice.
The activist majority of the Supreme Court concluded that these prior cases were in error and overturned these decisions. The four consenting Justices concluded that since the government does not have to allow suit at all, it may condition suit in any manner it chooses, even if the injured party is a child or physically or mentally disabled. The statute provides a six-month deadline "escape clause" in some cases, and in other limited cases, it may allow notice immediately after a disability is removed. In total, the decision represents a denial of justice for many people--particularly disabled people, based upon a reactionary and arbitrary interpretation of victims' rights.