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Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Michigan court rules injured bus passenger failed to establish Detroit was negligent

State Court

By Marian Johns | Aug 27, 2019


LANSING, Mich. (Legal Newsline) – The Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled for the city of Detroit in a lawsuit involving a woman who fell while getting on a city bus and alleged the driver's efforts to help her caused additional injuries. 

Judges Douglas Shapiro, Elizabeth Gleicher and Brock Swartzle ruled on the case.

According to the Aug. 20 ruling, Detroit appealed the Wayne Circuit Court's decision to deny its partial summary disposition on the tort claim filed by the plaintiff-appellee Barbara Marks. 

In the court's opinion, the judges listed three reasons for their reversal. First, the judges noted that Marks did not establish the city's negligence and that the city is not liable for the bus driver's actions. They also noted that Marks did not individually sue the driver.

The judges also found that Marks failed to support her claim for excess economic and noneconomic damages and that she "may be" entitled to PIP benefits due to her injuries while boarding the bus, but is not entitled to benefits due to injuries that resulted from the bus driver's assistance. 

Marks filed the suit against the city of Detroit claiming negligence after she sustained injuries when trying to board a city bus and sought personal injury protection (PIP) benefits, according to the Court of Appeals filing. Marks alleged that the bus driver caused her additional injury when he grabbed her under-arm to pull her up and drag her to a seat. 

The ruling states the city, while claiming it may be partly responsible for Marks' "first-party no-fault benefits," also claimed governmental immunity, which was denied by the trial court. According to the Court of Appeals ruling, the trial court found that city's bus system is a "proprietary" function instead of governmental due to charging riders fares.

The Michigan Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's decision and remanded the case for further proceedings. 

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