Snowmobiler will be allowed to go to trial on gross negligence claim
The trial judge in Luckett v. South Macomb Disposal Authority [SMDA] dismissed the personal injury action of William Luckett, who was rendered a quadriplegiac in a snowmobiling accident on Lake St. Clair. The judge had concluded that Luckett was "the" cause of the injuries he suffered when his snowmobile struck the SMDA pier at 45-50 milles per hour. The judge also concluded that the Authority enjoyed governmental immunity for any negligence and that its employees were not guilty of gross negligence.
The Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of the Authority and one employee, however, it ruled that Luckett was entitled to a trial with regard to the potential gross negligence of the employee responsible for maintaining the pier lights on the night in question. The Court noted that there was testimony that the outer 75 feet of the pier was unlit. There was also testimony that the contradictory maintenance records of the Authority might be unreliable. Under the circumstances, it was for the jury to weigh the contradictory evidence and to decide what caused the incident.