Amicus Brief

Estate of Sami F. Koulta v Officers Daniel Merciez and City of Centerline

Case Year: 2007
Case Forum: Michigan Supreme Court
Keywords: public duty doctrine, gross negligence, proximate cause
Amicus Counsel:

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

CoAmicus Parties:

Michigan Townships Association (MTA)


When the defendant is a governmental employee, the question of consideration of the “public duty doctrine” which limits the circumstances in which governmental employees might
otherwise have been found to owe duties to a particular plaintiff comes into play. Regardless of how artfully plaintiff may attempt to plead her claim to avoid the public duty doctrine, the essence of claim is a complaint that the defendant officers failed to prevent Chrissy Lucero from driving when they ordered her to leave the Offrink premises. As tragic as this case is, it does not present a “particularly egregious case of an officer promising police protection, but negligently carrying out that promise.” Rather, it is an example of police officers responding to a call for assistance, and diffusing the situation they confronted. Even were it concluded that the public duty doctrine was inapplicable to this case, and that a common law duty had been owed to plaintiff s decedent to keep Chrissy Lucero from driving away, defendant police officers are entitled to governmental immunity. Defendants’ conduct did not amount to “gross negligence,” as defined by MCL 691.1407(7)(a). In this case, it cannot be said that the officers’ conduct demonstrated a singular disregard for substantial risks, or that they simply “did not care”. When examining the question of “gross negligence”, it is important to place the conduct into its appropriate context. Defendants’ conduct did not constitute the proximate cause of the accident. Chrissy Lucero has pled guilty to second degree murder as a result of her actions, and given that the plaintiff has already obtained a judgment of$750,000 in a civil suit filed against Ms. Lucero, it is logically and legally impossible to argue that it was the conduct of the police officers that constituted the “one most immediate, efficient, and direct cause” of the plaintiff’s injury.


On October 4, 2007, the Court heard oral argument on the application for leave to appeal the July 6, 2006 judgment of the Court of Appeals. On order of the Court, the application is again considered, and it is DENIED, because we are not persuaded that the question presented should be reviewed by this Court.

MSC requested LDF amicus brief? Yes
Case Number: 2006-20
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