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150970 - Est of Bradley Corl v Huron & Eastern Railway

Kimberly Corl, Personal Representative of the Estate of Bradley Corl,
 
Phillip B. Maxwell
 
Plaintiff-Appellee,
 
v
(Appeal from Ct of Appeals)
 
 
(Tuscola – Gierhart, A.)
 
Huron & Eastern Railway Company, Inc., and Railamerica, Inc.,
 
James R. Carnes
 
Defendants-Appellants.
 
 
 
 

Summary

The decedent, Bradley Corl, came to a complete stop at a train crossing; but his vehicle then moved onto the tracks where it was struck by an oncoming train.  Plaintiff Kimberly Corl, personal representative of the Estate of Bradley Corl, filed a lawsuit against Huron & Eastern Railway alleging, among other things, that the railway breached a duty to create a clear vision area by failing to remove the vegetation that allegedly obscured Corl’s view of the oncoming train.  The trial court denied the railway’s motion for summary disposition.  In an unpublished per curiam decision, the Court of Appeals affirmed that part of the trial court’s ruling addressing the duty to clear vegetation from the crossing.  The railway has argued that, under MCL 462.317(1) and Paddock v Tuscola & Saginaw Bay Railway Company, 225 Mich App 526 (1997), the duty to clear vegetation rested with the road authority.  The Court of Appeals rejected this argument, holding that neither Paddock nor MCL 462.317(1) affected a railway’s own common law duty to provide a safe grade crossing.  The railway filed an application for leave to appeal.  The Court has scheduled oral argument on the application, asking the parties to address:  (1) whether the Court of Appeals decision conflicts with Paddock v Tuscola & Saginaw Bay Railway Company, 225 Mich App 526 (1997), and MCL 462.317;  and (2) whether Paddock was correctly decided.