Amicus Brief

Estate of Chance Aaron Nash v Duncan Park Commission

Case Year: 2015
Case Forum: Michigan Supreme Court
Keywords: governmental immunity, tort liability, trusts, parks, Home Rule City Act (HRCA), Michigan Constitution, ordinance
Amicus Counsel:

Mary Massaron Ross (P43885) | Hilary A. Ballentine (P69979) |
Plunkett & Cooney, PC. | 535 Griswold, Suite 2400 | Detroit, MI 48226 | 313-983-4801


The City of Grand Haven’s enactment of an ordinance creating a park commission is a valid exercise of its power under the Michigan Constitution and the Home Rule City Act to create an “authority authorized by law”, which, in turn, is properly afforded governmental immunity.The designation of a “commission” rather than an “authority” or “board” is
not dispositive of the immunity analysis, where “commission” is synonymous with “board” despite the precise label given. Left to stand, the Court of Appeals’ published decision will expose
governmental parties to a great risk of liability that the Legislature intended to prevent.


Michigan Supreme Court:
On order of the Court, leave to appeal having been granted and the briefs and oral arguments of the parties having been considered by the Court, we VACATE our order of October 24, 2014. We further VACATE that part of the March 20, 2014 Court of Appeals opinion addressing whether the Duncan Park Commission is a “board” of the City of Grand Haven. That issue was not raised below and the Court of Appeals should not have reached it sua sponte. In all other respects, leave to appeal is DENIED, because we are no longer persuaded that the questions presented should be reviewed by this Court.

MSC requested LDF amicus brief? No

A sledding accident took the life of 11-year-old Chance Nash. The accident occurred at Duncan Park in Grand Haven. Mrs. Nash is suing the Duncan Park Commission, as the manager of the park, responsible for supervison and maintenance. The land for the park was given to the city of Grand Haven for the citizens of the city. The city accepted the gift which required the city to pass an ordinance creating the Duncan Park Commission. The documents used the word “trustee” but the Circuit Court found the word was used as its dictionary definition of an office holder, not an administrator of a trust. The Court of Appeals found that the Commission was indeed a trust, and not a political subdivision of the city, and therefore had no governmental immunity.

Case Number: 2014-10
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