Municipal

This summary also appears under Negligence & Intentional Tort

 

Issues: Governmental immunity under the Governmental Tort Liability Act (GTLA) (MCL 691.1401 et seq.); Tort claims arising from a contract; Intentional tort claims of conversion and fraud; Whether the defendants-county and county board of commissioners were engaged in a "governmental function" (MCL 691.1401(b)); Harris v. University of MI Bd. of Regents; Ward v. Michigan State Univ. (On Remand); Smith v. Department of Pub. Health; Whether the administration of an inter-agency agreement to provide health insurance to public employees is a governmental function;Absence of an intentional tort exception to governmental immunity; Harrison v. Director of Dep't of Corrs.; Whether equitable estoppel may be applied to negate the statute of limitations (SOL) for the plaintiffs' breach of contract claim; MCL 600.5807; Hatcher v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co.; Cincinnati Ins. Co. v. Citizens Ins. Co.

Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Published)

Case Name: Genesee Cnty. Drain Comm'r v. Genesee Cnty.

e-Journal Number: 59415

Judge(s): Saad and Boonstra; Concurring in the result only – Stephens

 

Holding that the defendants-county and board of commissioners were immune from tort liability related to the administration of an inter-agency agreement to provide health insurance to public employees, the court reversed the trial court's order denying them summary disposition as to plaintiffs' intentional tort claims. It affirmed the trial court's ruling that plaintiffs' breach of contract claim may not seek compensation for damages accruing before 10/24/05, because they did "not come close to making a case for equitable estoppel" to negate the SOL. The court noted that this case was "unusual, because it involves tort claims made by a group of governmental agencies against another group of governmental agencies." It was made even more unusual by the fact that plaintiffs' tort claims arose from a contract. They asserted that "defendants breached their contractual obligations in their administration of a group health insurance contract for employees of both plaintiffs and defendants." They also contended that defendants "committed the intentional torts of conversion and fraud by wrongfully keeping premium refunds for themselves, instead of sharing the refunds with plaintiffs, as allegedly required by the contract." The court held that these tort claims were barred by the GTLA. It was uncontested that defendants were "governmental agencies" within the GTLA's scope. "The GTLA does not contain an 'intentional tort exception to governmental immunity' from tort liability." The court concluded that, contrary to plaintiffs' assertion, "the provision and administration of health insurance benefits to public employees via an inter-agency agreement is plainly a governmental function. The alleged intentional torts committed by defendants were specific acts or decisions that occurred as part of the 'general activity' of this governmental function." Thus, they were "immune from tort liability for any intentional torts they committed in the provision and administration of health insurance benefits to public employees, and plaintiffs are barred from asserting intentional tort claims based on defendants' action in this context." Plaintiffs' intentional tort claims must be dismissed. Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.

 

Full Text Opinion

This summary also appears under Negligence & Intentional Tort

 

Issues: Governmental immunity under the Governmental Tort Liability Act (GTLA) (MCL 691.1401 et seq.) & the Emergency Medical Services Act (EMSA) (MCL 333.20901 et seq.); Whether defendants were required to file an affidavit of meritorious defense; Kowalski v. Fiutowski; Maldonado v. Ford Motor Co.; MCL 600.2912e(1); MCL 600.2169; Costa v. Community Emergency Med. Servs., Inc.; Jennings v. Southwood; Gross negligence or willful misconduct under the EMSA; MCL 333.20965(1); "Gross negligence" defined; Maiden v. Rozwood

Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Published)

Case Name: McClain v. Lansing Fire Dep't

e-Journal Number: 59416

Judge(s): Saad, Owens, and K.F. Kelly

 

The court held that the defendants were not required to file an affidavit of meritorious defense, and that the trial court properly denied the plaintiff's motions. It also held that because plaintiff did not submit evidence sufficient to create a question of fact as to the "gross negligence" or "willful misconduct" of defendants' actions under the EMSA, the trial court properly granted defendants summary disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(7). The case involved the death of plaintiff's decedent, McLain. According to the original complaint, McLain suffered a respiratory attack in 2/09. When emergency personnel arrived, they administered medication and CPR, and inserted a breathing tube. Though she was promptly delivered to the hospital, she was declared brain-dead several days after her admission, and died soon after. Plaintiff's complaint attributed her death to defendant-Williams' (fireman and paramedic) alleged placement of the breathing tube in her esophagus instead of her trachea. On appeal, plaintiff claimed that the trial court should have granted him summary disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(9), or entered a default order against defendants under MCR 2.115(B), because they supposedly did not file an affidavit of meritorious defense. However, defendants argued that they were immune from plaintiff's action under the GTLA and the EMSA. Thus, they were not required to file an affidavit of meritorious defense, and the trial court correctly denied plaintiff's motions. Plaintiff also asserted that the trial court erred when it held that, as a matter of law, plaintiff had failed to show that defendants acted with gross negligence under the EMSA. He unconvincingly argued that his pleadings and offers of proof created a question of fact as to whether defendants committed gross negligence or willful misconduct in their medical response to McLain's health emergency, which abrogated defendants' immunity from suit under MCL 333.20965. As the trial court noted, only two parts of the "volumes" of evidence plaintiff submitted were "relevant to showing defendants were responsible for the incorrect location of the breathing tube - (1) the intern's medical progress notes; and (2) plaintiff's unsupported assertions that Williams' testimony was not credible." Neither was sufficient to create a question of fact to abrogate defendants' immunity from suit. "The medical progress notes were dictated by a medical intern, who, by his own admission, did not have direct knowledge of where the tube was located, and did not know from whom he received the information he recorded - including his notation that the tube was located in McLain's esophagus." As for plaintiff's assertions that Williams' testimony lacked credibility, he did not present any testimony to oppose Williams' version of events - he simply alleged that they were wrong. Affirmed.

 

Full Text Opinion
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