Action for injuries caused by an alleged road defect; Governmental immunity under the Governmental Tort Liability Act (MCL 691.1401 et seq.); MCL 691.1407(1); Nawrocki v. Macomb Cnty. Rd. Comm’n; The highway exception; MCL 691.1402; Notice; MCL 691.1404(1); MCL 224.21; Streng v. Board of Mackinac Cnty. Rd. Comm’rs; Brugger v. Midland Cnty. Bd. of Rd. Comm’rs; Harston v. Eaton Cnty.; Brown v. Manistee Cnty. Rd. Comm’n; Rowland v. Washtenaw Cnty. Rd. Comm’n; Equitable tolling; Devillers v. Auto Club Ins. Ass’n; Trentadue v. Buckler Lawn Sprinkler; Precedential effect; MCR 7.215(J)(1); Catalina Mktg. Sales Corp. v. Department of Treasury; Allison v. AEW Capital Mgmt., LLP; Paige v. Sterling Heights
The court held that the trial court did not err by granting summary disposition for defendant-road commission on plaintiff’s highway defect claim. Plaintiff sued defendant for injuries he sustained when he hit a pothole, veered off the road, and struck a tree. In granting defendant summary disposition, the trial court relied on “Streng for the proposition that MCL 224.21 applies to suits against county road commissions and required plaintiff to serve his presuit notice on defendant within 60 days of his injury.” On appeal, the court rejected his argument that the 120-day notice provision in MCL 691.1404(1) should have applied. “Until and unless the Supreme Court overrules the Streng decision, ‘all lower courts and tribunals are bound by that prior decision and must follow it even if they believe that it was wrongly decided or has become obsolete.’” As such, the court declined “to hold that the 120-day notice provision found in MCL 691.1404(1) governs plaintiff’s claim.” The court also rejected his alternative claim that Streng wrongly departed from the Supreme Court’s rulings in Brown and Rowland, and, due to the confusion caused by the case, the court should exercise its discretion and judicially toll the notice requirements. “Although plaintiff may believe that Streng was wrongly decided, the state of the law concerning presuit notice requirements, as it existed at the time of his accident, was anything but a ‘preexisting jumble of convoluted caselaw.’” To the contrary, “Streng definitively decided the issue, and no opinions published after Streng contradict its essential holding.” Thus, it declined “to apply equitable tolling to save plaintiff’s claim.” Affirmed.
Full Text Opinion
State Bar of Michigan
306 Townsend St
Lansing, MI 48933-2012