State Court Finds Premises Liability Case against Government Sufficient to Proceed Toward Trial

Earlier this month, an appellate court in Michigan issued a written opinion in a premises liability case brought against a city, alleging that the condition of a road was unsafe. In the case of Kozak v. City of Lincoln Park, the appellate court determined that the lower court should not have granted the defendant city’s motion for summary judgment because the plaintiff presented a prima facie case of negligence, on which facts the government may not be entitled to immunity.

The Facts of the Case

Kozak was injured as she tripped while crossing the street in the city of Lincoln Park. According to the court’s factual summary, there was a three-inch differential in the height of two concrete surfaces that met, creating a tripping hazard. Kozak argued that this was unreasonably dangerous, that the City should have known about it, and that the failure to correct the dangerous condition was negligent.

The government had the Director of Public Services testify on its behalf that the condition at issue was not really a safety hazard and that it was still safe for public travel. The trial court then granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment, finding that there was insufficient evidence presented to overcome the hurdle of government immunity.

The plaintiff appealed, pointing to a specific statute that contains an exception to government immunity in cases involving dangerous roadways. Specifically, the statute allows for the government to be liable when the roadway is not “reasonably safe.”

The court found in favor of the plaintiff, holding that summary judgment was not appropriate under these facts. The court was unimpressed by the Director of Public Services’ “conclusory” testimony that the roadway was safe. Under these facts, the government had a duty to present affirmative evidence that the condition of the roadway was safe. Merely having a non-expert give his opinion was insufficient. As a result of this case, the plaintiff’s case will continue toward trial or settlement negotiations with the government.

Government Immunity in Maryland

Maryland, like Michigan, has a statute excepting immunity in certain situations involving improperly maintained roadways. While government immunity is the general rule in these cases, if an injured party can show that the government had knowledge of a defect and failed to cure it, immunity may not attach. For more information on this subject, contact a Maryland slip-and-fall accident attorney.

Have You Been Injured on a Public Road?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured on an improperly maintained road or highway, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. While these cases do often present issues of governmental immunity, which can be difficult to overcome, immunity will not be appropriate in all cases. To meet with a Maryland premises liability attorney to discuss your case, call 410-654-3600 today to set up a free consultation. Calling is free and will not result in any obligation on your part unless we are ultimately able to help you obtain the compensation you deserve.

More Blog Posts:

Determining Fault in Multi-Party Washington, D.C. Accidents, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, June 9, 2016

Plaintiff’s Procedural Mistake Results in Dismissal of Premises Liability Case, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, June 30, 2016

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