Supreme Court addresses breadth of application of 2-inch sidewalk rule
Barbara Robinson sued the City of Lansing after she fell and suffered a severely fractured wrist on a city sidewalk adjacent to a state highway. The City sought summary disposition and argued that under the so-called "2-inch rule," it was entitled to an inference that the sidewalk had been "reasonably maintained" because the defect where Robinson fell did not measure 2 inches in depth. Robinson argued that under the plain language of the pertinent statute, the 2-inch rule applied only to municipal sidewalks that abutted county highways.
The trial court agreed with Robinson's interpretation of the statutory language, however, the Court of Appeals disagreed and reversed. Robinson appealed to the Supreme Court which ruled last week on the appeal. However reluctantly, all 7 of the Michigan Supreme Court Justices agreed that by its plain terms and under normal rules of statutory interpretation, the immunity statute did not create a 2-inch inference of reasonable care where the sidewalk involved was adjacent to a State Highway. When the case is sent back to the Circuit Court, Robinson will still have to prove that the City did not maintain the sidewalk in reasonable repair and that the City had adequate notice of the defect and reasonable time to effect a correction.