Amicus Brief

Michael Stanton v City of Battle Creek and Allan Maynard Howard

Case Year: 2001
Case Forum: Michigan Supreme Court
Keywords: motor vehicle exception, governmental immunity, Government Tort Liability Act (GTLA), loss of consortium
Amicus Counsel:

Ronald E. Baylor | Brad H. Sysol | Miller, Canfield, Paddock & Stone, P.L.C. | 444 West Michigan Ave | Kalamazoo, MI 49007


In conclusion, the phrase “motor vehicle” as found in MCL 691.1405 does not include forklifts. Mull was wrongly decided, both in terms of determining the Legislature’s intent as to the definition of “motor vehicle” in the Motor Vehicle Code and by imposing owner liability on industrial and construction equipment not used on public roads. Adoption by the Legislature of 1995 PA 140 in response to Mull v Equitable Life Assurance, 444 Mich 508; 510 NW2d 184 (1994) was curative legislation, to be given retroactive effect in order to
correct an error on the part of the judiciary as to the legislative intent. Although Mull should have no remaining effect in this case after 1995 PA 140, this Court should consider disavowing it because it is palpably incorrect, has been overtaken by a
change in law, and it’s remaining language not affected by the curative legislation is fraught with remaining mischief. The interests of a consistent and coherent body of law suggest Mull
should be dismissed. MCL 691.1405 does not create a cause of action. Rather, it defines anexception to governmental immunity to permit an injured party to recover against
governmental agencies pursuant to an owner liability claim, MeL 257.401, fitting within the exceptions and limited by its terms.


This case calls into question whether a forklift is a “motor vehicle” within the ambit of the motor vehicle exception to governmental immunity, MCL 691.1405. We hold that it is not, and, therefore, we affirm the decision of the Court of Appeals, which affirmed the trial court’s order granting summary disposition in favor of defendants.

MSC requested LDF amicus brief? No

[Plaintiff-Appellant] Michael Stanton was injured when he
was struck by a forklift driven by defendant Allan Maynard
Howard, an employee of defendant city of Battle Creek.
Michael Stanton filed suit, alleging that defendants were
negligent in operating and maintaining the forklift. Michael
Stanton’s wife, [plaintiff-appellant] Joy Stanton, alleged a
loss of consortium of consortium claim. Defendants moved
for summary disposition pursuant to MCR 2.116(7), (8), and
(1), on the basis that plaintiffs’ claims were barred by
governmental immunity. The trial court agreed that
plaintiffs’ claims were barred by governmental immunity, and
granted summary disposition in favor of defendants.

Case Number: 2001-01
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