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149901 - Estate of Beals v State of Michigan

Estate of William T. Beals, Deceased, by Theresa Beals, Personal Representative,  
Matthew D. Klakulak
(Appeal from Ct of Appeals)
(Barry – McDowell, A.)
State of Michigan
William J. Harmon,
Mark E. Donnelly


This case stems from the drowning death of William T. Beals, a 19-year-old student at the Michigan Center and Technical Institute (MCTI) in Plainwell, Michigan. MCTI is a residential facility, operating under the auspices of the Michigan Department of Human Services, providing vocational and technical training for students with disabilities. Beals’ estate filed a complaint - by his mother Theresa Beals - against defendant lifeguard William J. Harmon and MCTI seeking economic and non-economic damages for the death of her son alleging that damages were caused by Harmon’s gross negligence. Harmon moved to dismiss Beals’ complaint on the grounds of governmental immunity.
The Barry County Circuit Court heard oral argument on the motion, took it under advisement, and denied the motion.
Defendant appealed to the Court of Appeals. In a 2-1 unpublished decision, the Court affirmed the Barry County Circuit Court’s denial of summary disposition.
Harmon appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court. In an order dated December 23, 2014, the Court ordered oral argument on whether to grant the application or take other action and ordered the parties to address whether defendant William J. Harmon’s alleged failure to act was the proximate cause of decedent’s death. MCL 691.1407(2)(c).