Circuit Court LC No. 17-008903-NO
Before: Murray, C.J., and Sawyer and Redford, JJ.
granted defendants', Guang Hui Liang (Liang) and G.
Liang, Inc., doing business as Chan's Chinese Restaurant,
Inc. (Chan's), application for leave to
appeal to consider whether Liang is entitled to
parental immunity from the claims brought against him by his
son, plaintiff McCarty Ji Liang, for an injury plaintiff
suffered at Liang's business. For the reasons that
follow, we hold that parental immunity bars the
negligence-based claims against Liang, but that the immunity
doctrine has no bearing on the premises liability claim
against the corporate entity. Accordingly, we affirm in part,
reverse in part, and remand for further proceedings
consistent with this opinion.
case arises from the injuries suffered by plaintiff at
Chan's, his father Liang's restaurant. Plaintiff, who
was five years old at the time, arrived at Chan's between
9:30 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. with his mother, Guo Ying Cao, to
surprise Liang for Father's Day. Although Chan's
operated as a takeout restaurant only, it had a full dining
room in the front where plaintiff and Cao waited while Liang
prepared for closing by cleaning and prepping food for the
next day. When Cao walked away to inform a customer at the
takeout window that Chan's had closed for the night,
plaintiff wandered out of the dining area and into a room
that housed the restaurant's industrial meat grinder. The
room, separated from the kitchen, was near the bathroom, and
the meat grinder was plugged in on the floor. Plaintiff
attempted to operate the meat grinder, but caught and injured
his hand in the machine, ultimately requiring amputation of
suit against defendants, plaintiff alleged common-law
negligence, negligent infliction of emotional distress
(NIED), and premises liability. In lieu of an answer,
defendants moved for summary disposition of the complaint
pursuant to MCR 2.116(C)(7) and (8), asserting entitlement to
parental immunity from plaintiff's claims. Plaintiff
responded by arguing that parental immunity could not shield
Chan's, a corporate entity, from liability, and that his
complaint did not allege negligent supervision as Liang was
acting in a business capacity at the time of the injuries.
Further, plaintiff asserted that parental immunity did not
apply to his premises liability claim because property owners
owe a heightened duty of care to licensees. Ultimately, the
trial court denied defendants' motion, holding that
parental immunity could not shield defendants from liability
because Liang was acting as a business owner when
plaintiff's injuries occurred, and had a duty to
plaintiff as an invitee on the property.
first address defendants' argument that the trial court
erred when it concluded that parental immunity did not bar
plaintiff's claims against Liang. We agree and hold that,
notwithstanding the fact that plaintiff's injuries
occurred at Chan's, Liang's business, Liang was
entitled to parental immunity.
Court reviews de novo a trial court's decision to deny a
motion for summary disposition." Rowland v Washtenaw
Co Rd Comm, 477 Mich. 197, 202; 731 N.W.2d 41 (2007).
"Under MCR 2.116(C)(7), summary disposition is proper
when a claim is barred by immunity granted by law."
Fane v Detroit Library Comm, 465 Mich. 68, 74; 631
N.W.2d 678 (2001). When deciding the motion, "a court
must consider the pleadings, affidavits, depositions,
admissions, and other documentary evidence submitted in a
light most favorable to the nonmoving party." Fields
v Suburban Mobility Auth for Regional Transp, 311
Mich.App. 231, 234; 874 N.W.2d 715 (2015). "If there is
no factual dispute, whether a plaintiff's claim is barred
under a principle set forth in MCR 2.116(C)(7) is a question
of law for the court to decide." Id. (quotation
marks and citations omitted).
courts had for many decades recognized the doctrine of
parental immunity, which prohibited a minor from suing her
parent in tort. See Elias v Collins, 237 Mich. 175,
177; 211 N.W. 88 (1926), overruled by Plumley v
Klein, 388 Mich. 1, 8; 199 N.W.2d 169 (1972). The
Elias Court stated that the doctrine was created at
common law to serve "the interest of the peace of the
family and of society, and is supported by sound public
policy." Elias, 237 Mich. at 177. In 1972,
however, the doctrine was redefined and limited, and was
expressed as permitting "[a] child [to] maintain a
lawsuit against his parent for injuries suffered as a result
of the alleged ordinary negligence of the parent,"
except "(1) where the alleged negligent act involves an
exercise of reasonable parental authority over the child; and
(2) where the alleged negligent act involves an exercise of
reasonable parental discretion with respect to the provision
of food, clothing, housing, medical and dental services, and
other care." Plumley, 388 Mich. at 8.
Goodwin v Northwest Mich. Fair Ass'n, 325
Mich.App. 129, 143-144; 923 N.W.2d 894 (2018), our Court
recently set out the current standards governing the
application of the parental-immunity doctrine:
Although parents undoubtedly have a duty to supervise their
children, the law generally does not allow children to
recover damages from their parents for a breach of this duty.
In particular, "[a]t common law, a minor could not sue
his or her parents in tort." The Michigan Supreme Court
generally abolished intra-family tort immunity in
Plumley, holding that a child could maintain a
lawsuit against his or her parents for an injury resulting
from a parent's negligence. ...