Circuit Court LC No. 15-002883-NO
Before: Shapiro, P.J., and Hoekstra and M. J. Kelly, JJ.
action related to an injury arising from a purportedly
defective city street, defendant the City of Detroit
("the City") sought summary disposition pursuant to
MCR 2.116(C)(7) on the ground that plaintiff failed to
provide notice in compliance with the Government Tort
Liability Act (GTLA), MCL 691.1401 et seq. The trial
court denied the City's motion, and the City now appeals
as of right. Because plaintiff provided notice to the City as
required by MCL 691.1404(1), we affirm.
to plaintiff's complaint, on July 20, 2014, he fractured
his leg after he drove his motorcycle through a pothole, lost
control, and then crashed. In October of 2014,
plaintiff's attorney sent the City notice of
plaintiff's injury and the defect in the roadway. On
March 6, 2015, plaintiff filed his complaint in this case.
Thereafter, the City moved for summary disposition, asserting
that summary disposition was appropriate because plaintiff
failed to provide notice as required by MCL 691.1404(1).
Specifically, the City argued that plaintiff's notice was
deficient because (1) the notice failed to specify the exact
location and exact nature of the defect, and (2) the notice
was served by plaintiff's attorney rather than plaintiff.
The trial court rejected these arguments. The City now
appeals as of right.
appeal, the City argues that the trial court erred by denying
its motion for summary disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(7)
because plaintiff failed to provide notice as required by MCL
691.1404(1). In particular, as in the trial court, the City
argues that plaintiff failed to provide notice of the exact
location and nature of the defect. Additionally, the City
contends that plaintiff was required to personally serve
notice on the City, meaning that service by plaintiff's
attorney was insufficient to comply with MCL 691.1404(1).
STANDARDS OF REVIEW
"This Court reviews motions for summary disposition
under MCR 2.116(C)(7) de novo." Trentadue v Buckler
Automatic Lawn Sprinkler Co, 479 Mich. 378, 386; 738
N.W.2d 664 (2007). "Under MCR 2.116(C)(7), summary
disposition is proper when a claim is barred by immunity
granted by law." State Farm Fire & Cas Co v
Corby Energy Servs, Inc, 271 Mich.App. 480, 482; 722
N.W.2d 906 (2006). The applicability of governmental immunity
and its statutory exceptions are reviewed de novo.
Moraccini v Sterling Hts, 296 Mich.App. 387, 391;
822 N.W.2d 799 (2012). "Questions of statutory
interpretation are also reviewed de novo." Rowland v
Washtenaw Co Road Comm, 477 Mich. 197, 202; 731 N.W.2d
EXACT LOCATION AND NATURE OF THE DEFECT
City first argues that the location and nature of the defect
were not adequately described in the notice provided by
plaintiff. The City contends that plaintiff merely provided
the location of an intersection, which encompasses a broad
area and was not sufficient to identify the "exact
location" where plaintiff's injury occurred. With
regard to the nature of the defect, the City maintains that
plaintiff failed to sufficiently describe the nature of the
the GTLA, "governmental agencies are immune from tort
liability when engaged in a governmental function."
Nawrocki v Macomb Co Rd Comm, 463 Mich. 143, 156;
615 N.W.2d 702 (2000), citing MCL 691.1407(1). "[T]he
immunity conferred upon governmental agencies is
broad, and the statutory exceptions thereto are to
be narrowly construed." Nawrocki, 463
Mich. at 158. One such exception is the highway exception
codified at MCL 691.1402(1). Under MCL 691.1402(1),
"[e]ach governmental agency having jurisdiction over a
highway shall maintain the highway in reasonable repair so
that it is reasonably safe and convenient for public
travel." If a governmental agency fails to do so,
"[a] person who sustains bodily injury or damage to his
or her property by reason of failure of a governmental agency
to keep a highway under its jurisdiction in reasonable repair
and in a condition reasonably safe and fit for travel may
recover the damages suffered by him or her from the
governmental agency." MCL 691.1402(1).
as a prerequisite to recovering damages under the highway
exception, the injured person must serve notice on the
governmental agency pursuant to MCL 691.1404(1), which, in
pertinent part states:
As a condition to any recovery for injuries sustained by
reason of any defective highway, the injured person, within
120 days from the time the injury occurred, except as
otherwise provided in subsection (3) shall serve a notice on
the governmental agency of the occurrence of the injury and
the defect. The notice shall specify the exact location and
nature of the defect, the injury sustained and the names of
the witnesses known at the time by the claimant.
"MCL 691.1404 is straightforward, clear, unambiguous,
and not constitutionally suspect." Rowland, 477
Mich. at 219. Consequently, the statute "must be
enforced as written." Id. "Failure to
provide adequate notice under this statute is fatal to a
plaintiff's claim against a governmental agency."
McLean v Dearborn, 302 Mich.App. 68, 74; 836 N.W.2d
the plain language of MCL 691.1404(1), "a claimant must
provide, within 120 days from the time of injury, notice to
the governmental agency that (1) specifies the exact location
and nature of the defect, (2) identifies the injuries
sustained, and (3) provides the names of any known
witnesses." Burise v Pontiac, 282 Mich.App.
646, 653; 766 N.W.2d 311 (2009). "The notice need not be
provided in a particular form. It is sufficient if it is
timely and contains the requisite information."
Plunkett v Dep't of Transp, 286 Mich.App. 168,
176; 779 N.W.2d 263 (2009). Further, the information provided
in the notice "need only be understandable and
sufficient to bring the important facts to the governmental
entity's attention." Id. The sufficiency of
the notice is judged on the entire notice and all the facts
stated therein. Rule v Bay City, 12 Mich.App. 503,
508; 163 ...