Supreme Court continues its crusade to eliminate injury and death claims
On February 6, the Michigan Supreme Court dismissed a death claim for a young woman who was injured when her car left the road and struck a tree. The woman's family claimed that the gravel road where she was driving was composed of the wrong materials and not adequately maintained, creating excessive dust when vehicles traversed it. Reconstruction suggested that she was disoriented by the dust cloud raised when another car passed, left the road and struck the tree.
Without addressing any evidence regarding the adequacy of the maintenance of the road, the Court in a one paragraph opinion dismissed the claim of Debra Louise Hagerty-Kraemer against the Manistee County Road Commission. It simply declared that the family "failed to point to a condition of the highway in need of repair" and that "a dust cloud rising from an unpaved road is not a defect in the physical structure of the roadbed." Unbiased, knowledgeable engineers would vehemently disagree.
The Court even suggested that "an accumulaton of gravel, whether natural or otherwise, does not implicate the defendant's duty to maintain the highway in 'reasonable repair.' " This is called judicial activism of the most aggressive sort: the Court has now "amended" by judicial edict, the long-standing duty to reasonably maintain gravel roads. It is ironic to hear Republicans lament "judicial activism" and then watch them select judges who engage in judicial activism of the least intellectually honest sort.