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sumpter1
August 1st, 2011, 12:37 PM
Woman injured on trail loses Supreme Court case

By ED WHITE
Associated Press
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DETROIT (AP) -- The state has no obligation to keep a northern Michigan trail in reasonable repair, the Michigan Supreme Court said Saturday as it dismissed a lawsuit by a woman who became paralyzed when her all-terrain vehicle hit a partially buried board.

In a 4-3 decision, the court's conservative majority said the unpaved Little Manistee Trail in Lake County is not a road or highway, a designation that would require the state to maintain it.

The court said it reached that conclusion with "little difficulty."

The three liberal justices were on the losing side, which is common when the court hears cases testing whether someone has the right to sue.

Beverly Duffy, 48, of Sterling Heights, sued the Michigan Department of Natural Resources after her ATV hit a board in the ground in 2007. She was thrown from her seat, struck a tree trunk and suffered major back injuries.

"It is a broad trail, an unpaved dirt trail that has no shoulder, directly abuts dense forest, and appears wide enough to allow one lane of conventional traffic. ... Its primary purpose and use is for recreational vehicles, and this purpose eclipses the highly limited use of the trail by motor vehicles," Justice Stephen Markman wrote for the majority.

The three dissenting justices, led by Marilyn Kelly, accused the majority of botching a simple case of statutory interpretation. They noted that the trail, about 80 miles north of Grand Rapids, has many signs that qualify it as a highway, including stop signs, weight limits and curve warnings.

"This is a vanilla case of statutory interpretation that is easily resolved," Kelly said. State law "provides that a `highway' is a `road' that is `open for public travel.' The Little Manistee Trail satisfies this definition because it is a leveled surface designed for vehicular travel that is always accessible to the public."

Duffy's attorney, William Boyer Jr., said the decision "doesn't shock me."

"Back along party lines again," he said of the 4-3 ruling.

Duffy must use a wheelchair because of her paralysis. Her husband, Dan, declined to comment on the court decision.

Boyer said there's still a separate lawsuit pending against the Irons Area Tourist Association, a group that works with the state to tend to the Little Manistee Trail.

phittie1100
August 1st, 2011, 02:01 PM
Interesting to note that there are signs observed on that trail that have nothing to do with the ORV program - there are no curve warnings in the ORV sign inventory (snowmobile trail) - that they are using to support the case that the trail is really a road. I would be curious to see what section of the trail the accident occurred on, especially since the dissenting justices are calling it a road "...because it is a leveled surface designed for vehicular travel that is always accessible to the public."

NewRide
August 1st, 2011, 02:14 PM
This should be interesting to follow ...

WhiteRhino
August 2nd, 2011, 07:20 AM
Good ruling.

signman
August 4th, 2011, 08:47 AM
I,m going to look into it also. I belive it was a route not trail. The big question is weather Irons will lose thier side of the case?

Trail_Fanatic
August 4th, 2011, 10:21 PM
Hi Paul! Nice to see you around!

dragginwagon406
August 14th, 2011, 02:00 AM
I,m going to look into it also. I belive it was a route not trail. The big question is weather Irons will lose thier side of the case?

For the love of God, I hope not.

hemrides
August 14th, 2011, 08:54 AM
Wouldn't surprise me if they won...after all...in today's world it's not your fault that this happened...it is always the other guy...so she is entitled to get money from some group.