Sign In

150364 - Helen Yono v Department of Transportation

Helen Yono,
 
L. Page Graves
 
Plaintiff-Appellee,
 
v
(Appeal from Ct of Appeals)
 
 
(Ct of Claims – Canady, C.)
 
Department of Transportation,
 
Michael J. Dittenber
 
Defendant-Appellant.
 

Summary

     In July 2011, Helen Yono fell and was injured while walking to her car. Her car was parked in the parallel parking lane along M-22 in Suttons Bay.  Yono sued the defendant Michigan Department of Transportation. She alleged that, under MCL 691.1402(1), MDOT had a duty to keep M-22 in reasonable repair, breached that duty, and proximately caused her injuries. MDOT moved to dismiss her claims, asserting governmental immunity.  MDOT claimed it was immune from suit because the area where Yono fell was not the “improved portion of the highway designed for vehicular travel.” MDOT contended that its duty to maintain M-22 applied only to the “travel lanes” and not to the parallel parking area.  Yono responded that the highway extended from curb to curb and that the parallel parking lanes are “designed for vehicular travel,” so MDOT could not claim governmental immunity.  The trial court ruled that MDOT was not entitled to immunity.  The Court of Appeals considered the case twice, and each time affirmed the trial court in a published opinion. 

 

     On June 10, 2015, the Court granted leave to appeal, directing the parties to include among the issues to be briefed:  (1) whether a vehicle engages in “travel” under MCL 691.1402(1) when it parks in a lane of a highway designated for parking; (2) whether MDOT presented evidence of the design of the highway at issue which, if left unrebutted, would establish that Yono fell in an area of the highway not “designed for vehicular travel” under MCL 691.1402(1); (3) if so, whether Yono produced evidence establishing a question of fact regarding MDOT’s entitlement to immunity under MCL 691.1402(1); and (4) whether questions of fact on a motion for summary disposition involving governmental immunity under MCR 2.116(C)(7) must be resolved by the trial court at a hearing or submitted to a jury.