Amicus Brief

Joanne Rowland v Washtenaw County Road Commission

Case Year: 2006
Case Forum: Michigan Supreme Court
Keywords: highway, Government Tort Liability Act (GTLA)
Amicus Counsel:

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

CoAmicus Parties:

1. Michigan Municipal League Liability & Property Pool (Pool)
2. Michigan Townships Association (MTA)


Rowland, argued the road commission is not immune from liability based on the defective highway exception MCL 691.1402. Defendant argued failure to serve notice within 120 days, as provided by MCL 691.1404. The trial court relied on the Michigan Supreme Court’s decision of Hobbs v Dep’t of State
Highways and Brown v Manistee Co Rd Commission
which required a showing of actual prejudice to the governmental agency before barring a plaintiff’s claim for
failure to comply with the statutory notice provision. The court of appeals affirmed the trial court’s decision. The Michigan Supreme Court reversed and overruled Hobbs and Brown.
The notice provision for the defective highway exception to governmental immunity requires “the injured person to serve a notice on the governmental agency of the occurrence of the injury and the defect. The notice shall specify the exact location and nature of the defect, the injury sustained and the names of the witnesses known at the time by the claimant.”


The Michigan Supreme Court held that the statute should be enforced as written since the statute is straightforward, clear and unambiguous. The court held that the road commission is entitled to summary disposition since the plaintiff failed to comply with the statute.

MSC requested LDF amicus brief? No

On February 6, 2001, Joanne Rowland was injured while
crossing Jennings Street at Main Street in Northfield
Township in Washtenaw County. Allegedly, plaintiff
tripped and fell on “broken, uneven, dilapidated,
depressed and/or potholed areas” of the road. Plaintiff
did not serve notice on defendant until the 140th day
after the accident.

Case Number: 2005-07
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