Woman struck by University student driving University car cannot sue
Christina McCahan was hurt on the University campus when she was struck by a student driving a University vehicle. McCahan's attorney advised the University of the incident and of McCahan's injuries by letter within six months, however, the attorney did not file a copy of the letter with the Court of Claims within that time period. As a result, her claim was dismissed.
McCahan's attorneys appealed, arguing that the University suffered no injury or prejudice by the failure to file a copy of the notice with the Court of Claims, and therefore her suit should be allowed to go forward. They cited prior Supreme Court precedent requiring a show of prejudice by the University if it sought dismissal based on the notice statute. The Court of Appeals rejected McCahan's appeal, and held, over Judge Fitzgerald's vigorous dissent, that the failure to file the notice with the Court of Claims required dismissal with prejudice.
The majority rejected the reasoning of Judge Fitzgerald and of the prior Supreme Court decisions, instead applying the logic of the Engler Majority's 2007 Rowland decision. In Rowland, the Republican majority ruled that it would enforce the explicit language of any notice statute, regardless of whether the purpose of the notice had been substantially accomplished by other means or procedures. Judge Sawyer had previously rejected this outcome under identical circumstances, but in 2011, he bowed to the prevailing political wind and went along with Judge Henry Saad (who never met an injury case he wouldn't vote to dismiss).