Li v Feldt
439 Mich 457 (1992)
Issue: Governmental immunity – nuisance exception
A nuisance is generally an activity or condition that substantially interferes with the reasonable use of property or endangers health and life. Ultimately, the Michigan Supreme Court framed the issue as to whether public nuisance is an exception to the Governmental Tort Liability Act. A nuisance per se is generally an activity or condition which constitutes a nuisance at all times and under all circumstances, without regard to the care with which it is conducted or maintained. The Act does not contain a provision indicating that nuisance is an exception to governmental immunity.
Why did the LDF get involved?
|What action did the LDF take?
Filed an amicus brief with the Michigan Supreme Court
What was the outcome?
Who prepared the amicus brief?
COMMENT: The issue of whether trespass nuisance was an exception to governmental immunity in sewer backup cases came to a head in CS&P v City of Midland, 229 Mich App 141. In that case, Midland was found liable for damages to private landowners caused by sewer backups. The Michigan Supreme Court granted leave but later issued an order denying leave as improvidently granted.
In 2002, the Michigan Supreme Court, in Pohutski v City of Allen Park, ruled that the second provision of the GTLA applies only to the state and not other governmental agencies. This ruling in essence closed the door for analyses such as those expressed in the Li case. While Pohutski was pending before the Court, legislation was passed which allowed, but narrowly limited, the liability of a local unit of government in sewer backup cases. 2001 PA 222. Because of this legislative enactment, the Pohutski Court limited the effect of its decision so that it would apply only to future cases.