School immune from liability for student's fall off defective choir risers
In Williams v. Grand Ledge High School, the plaintiff parent brought an injury suit against the school system after her daughter fell from the back ledge of an upper choir riser. She claimed that the fall resulted from a defect in the riser which had a back "lip" or ledge to prevent chairs from sliding off, but no guardrail. The Court dismissed the school's claim that the 32 foot by 16 foot by 2 foot risers were not fixtures, but nevertheless summarily dismissed the student's lawsuit.
The Court of Appeals held that applying a fairly recent analysis by Michigan's Supreme Court, the defect was in the design of the risers, not in the maintenance of the risers or building. The higher Court has held that governmental entities are immune from liability for design flaws and that the statute overriding governmental immunity applies only to the "maintenance" of a public building.