Court Holds “Bodily Injury” Damages Include “Pain and Suffering” and “Non-economic Damages” In “Motor Vehicle” Accident Claims Against Government

In a much awaited opinion, the Michigan Supreme Court has held that a claimant may recover “nonecconomic damages” such as “pain and suffering” and “emotional distress” damages and excess “economic damages” in actions against the government under the “motor vehicle” exception to governmental immunity.

Two lower appellate court cases came to opposite conclusions about whether the term “bodily injury” in the motor vehicle exception, Compiled Laws (MCL) 691.1405, including such excess economic and traditional, tort “noneconomic” damages.

Before this opinion, the Governmental Liability Act (GTLA) had been construed narrowly to the strictest confines of the definition of terminology used in that act.  However, the Court here rules that because the common law jurisprudential definition of the term “bodily injury” had traditionally included these types of damage claims, and because the Legislature never explicitly reined in that definition, even after passage of the 1964 GTLA, the statutory term as used in the “motor vehicle” exception, and, likely in other sections of the GTLA will make such damages available to the claimant in actions against the government.

Read the opinion here:  Hannay-Hunter Opinion Supreme Court

I submitted an amicus curiae brief in the Michigan Supreme Court calendar session on this case for Michigan Townships Association and the counties of Macomb, Oakland and Wayne.  (99705-sc-amicus-curiae-br).

I also participated in a panel discussion about this case at the State Bar Negligence Law Section meeting in September.

Read more extensively about this case, including the lower appellate court opinions in my previous post, here:

If anyone has questions about this case and its impact, please let me know.

About cjtucker06

Owner of law firm since July 2014; Handles all types of appellate matters and assists other lawyers with complex litigation and insurance coverage issues; Admitted to the Supreme Court of the United States, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and the State Bar of Michigan; Expertise in prosecuting and defending appeals with several significant successes in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Michigan Supreme Court and the Michigan Court of Appeals; Author of briefs amicus curiae in the Michigan Supreme Court for the Michigan Defense Trial Counsel and the Insurance Institute of Michigan; Represents Insurance Companies, Major International Business, Governmental Entities, Law Enforcement Officers and County Sheriffs. Board of Directors, Michigan Defense Trial Counsel Amicus Committee Co-Chair, Michigan Defense Trial Counsel Military - Retired Major in the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps of the United States Army, Brigade Judge Advocate and Staff JAG officer for the Maneuver Training Center, Camp Grayling, Michigan; Recipient of the Army's Meritorious Service Medal (the highest medal of honor available to Soldiers serving in non-combat roles); 2012 Graduate of the Judge Advocate Officer Advanced Course, at The Judge Advocate Legal Center and School, Charlottesville, Virginia. United States Navy Reserves, Combat Warfare Qualification, January 1989 to July 2003 Former law clerk to Justice Stephen J. Markman, Michigan Supreme Court, Research Attorney, Michigan Court of Appeals. Insurance Coverage Associate Plunkett Cooney; Environmental Law Attorney at Squire Sanders, now Squire Patton Boggs; Master's Degree in Environmental Law; Environmental Law Scholar, ALI/ABA Washington, D.C., Juris Doctorate, Vermont Law School, Environmental Editor, Vermont Law Review; Treasurer and Finalist, Moot Court Advisory Board.
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