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154851 - Alice M. Brown v City of Sault Ste Marie

Alice M. Brown,
Kirk M. Liebengood
(Appeal from Ct of Appeals)
(Chippewa – Lambros, J.)
City of Sault Ste Marie, Eric Fountain, Greg Schmitigal, Mike Breakie, Jeff Killips, and Bruce Lipponen,
Hilary A. Ballentine


On May 6, 2014, plaintiff Alice Brown sustained injuries when she fell head-first over the sheer edge of an excavation hole created by defendant City of Sault Ste. Marie and its workers. On July 23, 2014, plaintiff’s attorney sent a letter to defendants for the purpose of providing the required statutory notice of plaintiff’s intent to make a claim for injury and damage under the highway exception to governmental immunity. See MCL 691.1404(1), which requires the notice to “specify . . . the injury sustained . . . .” Plaintiff’s notice stated only that she “suffered severe and permanent injuries,” but it referenced certain documents that had been obtained from defendants through a Freedom of Information Act request and described plaintiff’s injuries in more detail. The trial court granted summary disposition to defendants and denied plaintiff’s motion for reconsideration. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded for further proceedings, concluding that plaintiff’s notice satisfied the statute. The Supreme Court has directed oral argument on defendants’ application for leave to appeal to address whether the Court of Appeals properly applied MCL 691.1404(1) when it concluded that plaintiff’s notice, “when read as a whole,” was adequate because the notice “referenced documents” that more fully described her injuries.