Amicus Brief

Beverly and William Luckett, as Next Friends of William Luckett, IV, a minor v Southeast Macomb Sanitary District, Rick Kittell, and Patrick O’Connell

Case Year: 2014
Case Forum: Michigan Supreme Court
Keywords: governmental immunity, proximate cause, gross negligence
Amicus Counsel:

Rosalind Rochkind (P23504) | Garan Lucow Miller, P.C. | 1000 Woodbridge Street | Detroit, MI 48207-3108 | 313-446-5522 |
[email protected]

CoAmicus Parties:

1. Michigan Townships Association (MTA)
2. Michigan Bar Public Corporation Law Section (PCLS)


It is speculation that Kittell knew of the danger presented to the Plaintiff and did nothing about it. There is no evidence that he was either aware that the light was out, or that he knew that
anyone was out on the ice. Without knowledge of both of these circumstances, no even arguable basis for a finding of gross negligence is possible. If he should have known that the light was out, but did not, it is merely a basis for a claim of negligence. And there was no duty to keep track of who was on the ice at any given hour of the day or night. The immunity question is not whether the light was out, and not whether Kittell should have noted that it was out and thereby breached a duty owed to Plaintiff when, shortly before the accident, he failed to take steps intended to remedy the outage. Moreover, the question is not whether there was a causal connection between the outage and the accident. These are liability considerations, and a strong line of Michigan case precedent supports the position that neither a mere breach of duty, added to “but for” or even “proximate” causation, will avoid the immunity provided by MCL 691.1407(2). The Court of Appeals opinion is contrary to this clear line of authority and, if allowed to stand, would permit claims to be brought and continued as to which immunity exists, thereby abrogating immunity from suit and jeopardizing immunity from liability.In the case at bar it suffices to support summary disposition that, as a matter of
law, the conduct of Rick Kittell could not be found to constitute the one most immediate, efficient, and direct cause of the injury or damage to Billy Luckett. Perhaps it was the conduct of Billy Luckett. Or perhaps there was no one cause that constituted “the proximate cause.” In either event, the broad immunity provided by the Legislature prevents both suit and the imposition of liability against Rick Kittell.


The Michigan Supreme Court:
We REVERSE in part the judgment of the Court of Appeals and we REMAND this case to the Macomb Circuit Court for entry of summary disposition in favor of defendant Rick Kittell.

MSC requested LDF amicus brief? No

Billy Luckett was snowmobiling on Lake St Clair, at night, when he crashed his motorcycle into the pier, resulting in severe injury. Plaintiffs (his parents) claim a light was out on the pier and that employee Rick Kittell, who was responsible for light maintenance on the pier that night, was grossly negligent and the proximate cause of the accident.

Case Number: 2013-15
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