Royal Oak not automatically immune from liability for guy wire in sidewalk
After the sun set on May 24, 2006, John Crnkovich was nearly decapitated when he ran into a guy wire embedded in a City of Royal Oak sidewalk. Crnkovic was intoxicated and operating a motorized bike at the time. His injuries were fatal. His family sued the City, two City employees, a construction contractor, and Detroit Edison, after it learned that the City had installed the sidewalk over the guy wire, despite repeated warnings that it was creating an unsafe condition. The City and its employees sought summary disposition, arguing that they were immune from any liability arising out of the incident. The trial court disagreed, and on appeal, the Court of Appeals also rejected the City's arguments. After a comprehensive review of the facts surrounding the City's months-long failure to secure removal of the guy wire, and its decision--against advice--to build the sidewalk through the guy wire rather than completing it at a later date, the Court found that reasonable jurors may consider the City's decision-making employees to have been grossly negligent. The Court also deemed it a jury issue to determine whether Crnkovich or the City was more at fault in causing the incident.