Michigan Supreme Court Rules Parallel Parking Areas are Not Jurisdictional “Highways” Under Governmental Immunity Tort Liability Act

Last week, the Michigan Supreme Court issued its opinion in a “highway exception” case (Yono v. MDOT) that originally went to the Court on oral argument on the original application, then, after remand to the Court of Appeals returned to the Court on a full grant of the Michigan Department of Transportation’s application for leave to appeal.

I wrote amicus briefs at each stage of this case for various governmental entities and organizations (1) in support of the original application by MDOT from the Court of Appeals first opinion; (2) a supplemental amicus on the Supreme Court’s grant of oral argument on the application, (3) another amicus in support of MDOT’s application for leave to appeal after remand, and (4) an amicus brief in support of MDOT’s brief on the full calendar case. (MML and MTA Amicus Brief)

In my amicus brief on behalf of the Michigan Municipal League and Michigan Townships Association, I advocated for the position that parallel parking places were not within the improved portion of the highway designed for vehicular travel under the highway exception to governmental immunity.

The Court holds that the “highway exception” does not encompass areas that are designated for parking and non-continuous vehicular travel.  This opinion adheres to the interpretive principles applicable to governmental immunity that the exceptions to immunity should be narrowly drawn.

More importantly, it effectively removes a large swath of potential “grey” areas that might otherwise be construed as “highways” within the meaning of the exception, just because automobiles might use these areas from time to time.

This is an important opinion for governmental entities and municipal organizations and insurance companies that underwrite their risk. It removes ambiguity in the application of the “highway exception” to immunity and provides certainty for future considerations of potential liabilities.

 

 

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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