September 20, 2014

Lawsuit against road commission back to circuit court

By Lauren Begley
Staff Writer | reporter@arenacindependent.com
Posted

MOFFATT TOWNSHIP — After taking its case to the Michigan Supreme Court, the Arenac County Road Commission could now be potentially liable for flooding that occurred in an Alger couple’s home in 2004.

According to a previous report in the Arenac County Independent, David and Marilyn Linton’s home was allegedly flooded after tree limbs removed by the road commission ended up clogging a drain in the ditch.

The case began in the 23rd Circuit Court, but it has been through the circuit court and the Michigan State Court of Appeals twice, said the Lintons’ lawyer, Kim A. Higgs.

The road commission was originally granted governmental immunity by the circuit court, which means that employees of government agencies are not legally responsible for damages or injuries to people or property. However, Higgs said that sewage disposal systems are an exception to governmental immunity and that storm water drainage is a subgroup within sewage disposal systems.

The Court of Appeals overturned the decision of governmental immunity, and the circuit court heard the case again in June 2008, the Arenac Independent reported.

The road commission went to the state Supreme Court, which declined to hear the case, thereby affirming the ruling of the Court of Appeals, Higgs said.

“This is the end of the line,” Higgs said, explaining that the next step is to bring the case back to the circuit court.

He said they will need to demonstrate that the road commission was negligent and that there was damage to the property.

Higgs also said that this case will open up potential for other road commissions and city and county drain commissions to be liable if they are negligent.

“This has major significance way beyond the Lintons,” he said.

A court date has not been set, but Higgs said that he thinks the circuit court would schedule a date within the next month or two.

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