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156793 - Dwayne Wigfall v City of Detroit

Dwayne Wigfall,


Stacy Heinonen





(Appeal from Ct of Appeals)



(Wayne – Hathaway, D.)


City of Detroit,


Linda Fegins





Plaintiff filed a complaint against the City of Detroit pursuant to the Governmental Tort Liability Act (GTLA), MCL 691.1401 et seq., alleging that he was injured after hitting a pothole while riding his motorcycle. The city moved for summary disposition, asserting that plaintiff had failed to meet the GTLA’s notice requirement in MCL 691.1404(2), which provides that “notice may be served upon any individual, either personally, or by certified mail, return receipt requested, who may lawfully be served with civil process directed against the governmental agency.” Plaintiff had directed his notice to “City of Detroit Law Department—CLAIMS.” The trial court denied defendant’s motion, holding that plaintiff substantially complied with the notice statute and, alternatively, defendant was equitably estopped from raising this defense. In a published opinion, the Court of Appeals reversed, holding that plaintiff’s notice did not comply with MCL 691.1404(2) or MCR 2.105(G)(2), and that substantial compliance was insufficient. 322 Mich App 36 (2017). The Supreme Court has directed oral argument on plaintiff’s application for leave to appeal to address:  (1) whether strict or substantial compliance is required with the notice provision contained within MCL 691.1404(2), compare Rowland v Washtenaw County Road Commission, 477 Mich 197 (2007), with Plunkett v Dep’t of Transportation, 286 Mich App 168 (2009); (2) whether plaintiff’s notice failed to comply with MCL 691.1404(2) under either a strict or substantial compliance standard; (3) whether an individual described in MCR 2.105(G)(2) can delegate the legal authority to accept lawful process under MCL 691.1404(2), see 1 Mich Civ Jur Agency § 1 (2018); and (4) whether the defendant should be estopped from asserting that the statutory notice requirement was not met.  This case will be heard at the same session as West v City of Detroit (No. 157097). ​