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Woman who suffered severe wrist fracture cannot sue because her original legal notice didn't specify the exact location of injury

A municipality can be responsible for injuries caused by a fall, if the fall is caused by a seriously defective sidewalk.  The victim is required to provide the City with notice of the injury within a number of days, however, and the notice must contain certain details.  Before Governor Engler selected Michigan Supreme Court Justices who were hostile to personal injury claims, the Supreme Court had held for decades that "substantial compliance" with the notice requirement was adequate.  The Justices had consistently held that the municipality must show that it suffered some form of prejudice resulting from an allegedly inadequate notice.

The pro-insurance Justices who now dominate the Court rejected this interpretation (this "legal precedent"), however, and ruled that any defect in the notice, however, slight, was grounds for permanent dismissal, without any proof of prejudice to the city.  Deborah Barnosky's claim suffered that fate this week, after the Court of Appeals ruled that her notice did not adequately describe the nature of the defect in the sidewalk where she fell and didn't adequately describe the "exact location."  Her attorneys had described the location as the sidewalk "on Vinewood near the Bacon Memorial Library."  Even though the City had apparently sent an adjuster to the location and identified the defect, Barnosky's inexact description was deemed grounds for dismissal of her claim.

Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
309 East Front Street
Traverse City, Michigan 49684
Toll Free: 1-800-678-1307
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