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158563 - Ryan Menard v Terry Imig

Ryan Menard, by his Conservator, Shelly Menard,


Mark Granzotto





(Appeal from Ct of Appeals)



(Macomb – Maceroni, J.)


Terry R. Imig and Sharryl Ann Everson,









Macomb County Department of Roads and County of Macomb,


Carson Tucker






While riding his bicycle, 15-year-old Ryan Menard was struck and injured by a pickup truck driven by Terry Imig.  Plaintiff, as Ryan’s conservator, filed this negligence action against defendants Imig, the Macomb County Department of Roads, and Macomb County.  The Macomb defendants moved for summary disposition on various grounds, including governmental immunity.  Plaintiff countered with evidence that (1) construction in the area had resulted in increased traffic on the road; (2) the road was potholed, parts of it had washed out after rain, and it had a washboard effect; (3) the width of the roadway had narrowed due to the build-up of sediment and plant life on the sides of the surface; (4) Ryan had steered his bike to the right side of the road to avoid being hit, but a driver travelling in the opposite direction turned on her high-beam headlights, temporarily blinding Imig so that he did not see Ryan until he struck him from behind and dragged him under his truck; and (5) an expert witness had opined that the condition of the road, as well as the glare of the headlights, were contributing factors to the cause of the accident.  The trial court denied the motion, holding that plaintiff had presented sufficient evidence to support a claim under the highway defect exception to the Government Tort Liability Act (GTLA), MCL 691.1401 et seq.  The Court of Appeals reversed in a split unpublished opinion.  The majority held that, although plaintiff’s theory based on increased glare and blindness was sufficient to establish a logical sequence of cause and effect, plaintiff failed to demonstrate proximate cause.  The dissent held that plaintiff had presented sufficient evidence of causation to avoid summary disposition.  The Supreme Court has directed oral argument on plaintiff’s application for leave to appeal to address (1) whether the Court of Appeals erred in its determination of cause-in-fact, and (2) whether the narrowing of the roadway combined with the oncoming driver’s use of high-beam headlights, or any other cause-in-fact, was a proximate cause of that accident.