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"Pavement defects " on "freeway exit ramp" constitute inadequate notice

Government entities are statutorily required to keep roads "in reasonable repair."  In order to sue such an entity, however, the injury victim is required to give the road authority "notice of injury" within 120 days.  Michael Bowers sued MDOT after he was injured while leaving I-94 near 21 Mile Road.  Bowers had been driving up the freeway exit ramp when he lost control of his motorcycle.  He claimed his loss of control was caused by  "pavement defects" and loose gravel.

The Court of Appeals ruled that  Bowers' notice to MDOT was not statutorily adequate.  It ruled that simply identifying "pavement defects" was an inadequate description of the alleged unsafe condition.  It also held that because Bowers did not specify where, within the exit ramp, the defect was located, his description was inadequate.  It reached these opinions, even though MDOT was able to respond, investigate, and photograph the entire ramp and defective pavement within weeks of the collision,  in response to Bowers' Notice.  Thus it was able to fulfill the purpose of the Notice requirement, which is to preserve the evidence. 

It is perhaps noteworthy that the opinion quoted extensively from Bowers' early statements, including emergency medical records, where Bowers described losing control on gravel and did not mention "potholes" or other "pavement defects."  It would appear--although the judges didn't say so--that the inadequate notice holding really represented an opportunity to summarily dispose of a claim that the judges felt was contrived and unreliable.

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