CARRIE S. FLANAGIN, Plaintiff-Appellee,
KALKASKA COUNTY ROAD COMMISSION Defendant-Appellant, and ANDREW HENRY SCHLAGEL, Defendant.
Circuit Court LC No. 14-011619-NI.
Before: Cavanagh, P.J., and Sawyer and Servitto, JJ.
central issue in this case is whether a county road
commission is immune from suit for an accident caused by a
county snowplow that is operating on the wrong side of the
road. We conclude that, while the motor vehicle code does
authorize a plow truck to be operated in the opposing traffic
lane, doing so may nevertheless present a situation in which
the plow truck is being negligently operated and, in such
cases, the resulting motor vehicle accident falls outside the
scope of governmental immunity.
Kalkaska County Road Commission (defendant) appeals from an
order of the circuit court denying its motion for summary
disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(7) based on governmental
immunity. On appeal, defendant argues that it is immune from
suit because (1) MCL 257.603 and 257.634 authorizes a
snowplow to cross the centerline of a road and (2) even if
those statutes are inapplicable, plaintiff failed to
establish a genuine issue of material fact that the plow
truck was operated negligently and that this accident fell
within the motor vehicle exception to governmental immunity,
MCL 691.1405. We disagree and affirm. We review de novo the
trial court's decision on a motion for summary
disposition, Oliver v Smith, 290 Mich.App. 678, 683;
810 N.W.2d 57 (2010), the issue of whether immunity applies,
Co Rd Ass'n of Mich. v Governor, 287 Mich.App.
95, 118; 782 N.W.2d 784 (2010), and issues of statutory
interpretation, Dressel v Ameribank, 468 Mich. 557,
561; 664 N.W.2d 151 (2003).
suit alleges that she was injured when the vehicle she was
driving collided with a plow truck operated by defendant
Schlagel, who was subsequently dismissed from the suit, in
the course of his employment with defendant. Plaintiff
alleges that the accident occurred because Schlagel was
driving too fast for the conditions and crossed the
centerline of the road. Schlagel denies that he crossed the
centerline and it is defendant's position that the
accident was caused when plaintiff herself crossed the
centerline. The issue of which vehicle crossed the centerline
is relevant to the second issue on appeal (whether the motor
vehicle exception to governmental immunity applies). But, for
purposes of resolving the first issue, the applicability and
effect of MCL 257.603 and 257.634, we will assume that it was
the plow truck that crossed the centerline.
257.603 provides as follows:
(1) The provisions of this chapter applicable to the drivers
of vehicles upon the highway apply to the drivers of all
vehicles owned or operated by the United States, this state,
or a county, city, township, village, district, or any other
political subdivision of the state, subject to the specific
exceptions set forth in this chapter with reference to
authorized emergency vehicles.
(2) The driver of an authorized emergency vehicle when
responding to an emergency call, but not while returning from
an emergency call, or when pursuing or apprehending a person
who has violated or is violating the law or is charged with
or suspected of violating the law may exercise the privileges
set forth in this section, subject to the conditions of this
(3) The driver of an authorized emergency vehicle may do any
of the following:
(a) Park or stand, irrespective of this act.
(b) Proceed past a red or stop signal or stop sign, but only
after slowing down as may be necessary for safe operation.
(c) Exceed the prima facie speed limits so long as he or she
does not endanger ...