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  1. #1

    Default Detroit pushes new law protecting cities from claims over dangerous sidewalks

    "For decades under Michigan law, cities could be held liable for only certain defects that caused injuries: they had to measure at least two inches required proof that the defect had been that way for at least a month.

    "But last month, the law was changed.

    "Detroit turns to Lansing

    "Starting in 2015, with the city just emerging from bankruptcy, Mayor Mike Duggan’s office wanted to make it even harder to hold a city liable for a sidewalk injury. Duggan's team turned to then Representative Harvey Santana, D-Detroit, to introduce House Bill 4686.

    The legislation aimed to significantly raise the standard for holding a city liable for a sidewalk injury and said that cities couldn’t be held responsible for defects that were deemed “open and obvious.”"

    http://www.wxyz.com/news/local-news/investigations/watch-your-step-new-law-protects-cities-from-claims-over-dangerous-sidewalks

  2. #2

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    $6 mil in law suits. It would be interesting to find out what the City has spent, since 2015, replacing sidewalks in neighborhoods, outside of mid and downtown. The City issues citations to homeowners, making it's their responsibility to replace defective flags in front of their homes. Way to go Mike. Get rid of those pesky time and money consuming City Services. Put that money back where it belongs, in the hands of billionaires, for coliseum and phallic high rises.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Honky Tonk View Post
    $6 mil in law suits. It would be interesting to find out what the City has spent, since 2015, replacing sidewalks in neighborhoods, outside of mid and downtown. The City issues citations to homeowners, making it's their responsibility to replace defective flags in front of their homes. Way to go Mike. Get rid of those pesky time and money consuming City Services. Put that money back where it belongs, in the hands of billionaires, for coliseum and phallic high rises.
    Why would you think this has anything to do with getting rid of ... City Services?

    The question shouldn't be does my ox get gored, or do I ascribe evil motives to politicians.

    The question should be does the law as it sits make sense?

    $6m in lawsuits paid out. That's money that could be used to pay City Services staff to do something useful, rather than trying to maintain Detroit's sidewalks to 100% perfection.

    Do we want perfect sidewalks? Yes. Are we willing to spend every dollar we have to accomplish this rather than focusing on other obvious needs such as public safety? No.

    Sounds like a good realignment of the laws to recognize that an easy-to-step-over 1/2" crack in a sidewalk is less important than having an additional 60 policy officers that $6m might fund. ($100k x 60) -- and this of course doesn't even count the time the law department spends, nor the administrative overhead.

    Good job, Mike D. Keep making Detroit Great Again!

  4. #4

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    Billions in city and state tax revenue to subsidize billionaires in money losing "development" schemes = good use of taxpayer money

    $6 million in city and state tax revenue to keep sidewalks safe, people healthy and right-of-ways secure = gross misuse of taxpayer money

    Welcome to U.S. Idiocracy 2017, brought to you by Trump University, Russian Times and Deplorables nationwide.

  5. #5

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    Nothing kills more trees than having to dig up a bunch of flags in front of your property to keep someone from tripping. I noticed in Ferndale that they hired a contractor who actually ground-down all those uneven flags instead of replacing them. I'm pretty sure there was considerable savings.

  6. #6

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    Michigan already recognizes a tort limitation for "open and obvious" conditions on private property. I dont understand why that little fact didnt make it into the WXYZ story. Is modern journalism that difficult?

  7. #7

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    I think this change would be more in alignment with what most people would consider reasonable.

    If you trip on the sidewalk because you're an idiot, that's your own responsibility, even if there was some kind of flaw with the sidewalk.

    If you trip on the sidewalk because there was a problem with the sidewalk that you had no way of reasonably anticipating then that's the city's fault.

    imo this change hurts morons and ambulance chasing lawyers. The article says that the city loses 6 million a year to lawsuits and spends 3.3 million a year on sidewalks. If this change cut their lawsuit loses in half they could spend that money to double the amount that they spend on actually fixing the sidewalks in the first place.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by BankruptcyGuy View Post
    Michigan already recognizes a tort limitation for "open and obvious" conditions on private property. I dont understand why that little fact didnt make it into the WXYZ story. Is modern journalism that difficult?
    uh, they did.

    "Hollowell says the new law makes sense because it levels the legal playing field, offering cities the same kind of defenses in slip and fall claims that private businesses already enjoy."

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kenneth Noisewater View Post
    uh, they did.

    "Hollowell says the new law makes sense because it levels the legal playing field, offering cities the same kind of defenses in slip and fall claims that private businesses already enjoy."
    I missed it, all the way down in the story. I guess “Cities to get same legal protection as private businesses” don’t garner sufficient clicks.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by BankruptcyGuy View Post
    I missed it, all the way down in the story. I guess “Cities to get same legal protection as private businesses” don’t garner sufficient clicks.
    Kinda makes you wonder why cities don't already have reasonable 'legal protection' -- or are we happier if they are money machines for lawyers?

  11. #11

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    B'ham.... I share your thoughts on subsidizing billionaires developments. But anger at one problem doesn't mean we shouldn't work on the other.

    If its too easy to sue cities in Michigan, then the laws should be changed so those who suffer real damages can be compensated, but those who are making stuff up don't cost taxpayers.

    btw, if you add up all the cost of the injury lawsuits from sidewalks plus 10,000 other problems, I'll be it does end up being Billions too.

    Kudos to Duggan for working on the non-glamorous things that really suck dry Detroit's taxpayers, and provide little benefit.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wesley Mouch View Post
    Kinda makes you wonder why cities don't already have reasonable 'legal protection' -- or are we happier if they are money machines for lawyers?
    that's an...interesting take. so if the sidewalks you pay the city to fix aren't actually fixed and they cause you to break your hip, its actually your fault, not the city's. got it.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kenneth Noisewater View Post
    that's an...interesting take. so if the sidewalks you pay the city to fix aren't actually fixed and they cause you to break your hip, its actually your fault, not the city's. got it.
    Hallelujah! Someone's catching on.

  14. #14

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    ... as we go merrily tap dancing through the pothole fields ...

  15. #15

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    Why doesn't the city just fix the sidewalks and then add the assessment onto the owner's tax bill. That's what most normal/functioning cities across Metro Detroit do.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by belleislerunner View Post
    Why doesn't the city just fix the sidewalks and then add the assessment onto the owner's tax bill. That's what most normal/functioning cities across Metro Detroit do.
    They know they can't collect it. They know they can't fund it to repair it. This way they get themselves off of the liability hook, and life goes on...

    http://www.detroitnews.com/story/new...yers/89682396/

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kenneth Noisewater View Post
    that's an...interesting take. so if the sidewalks you pay the city to fix aren't actually fixed and they cause you to break your hip, its actually your fault, not the city's. got it.
    No. That's not correct.

    from the article:
    Butch Hollowell is Corporation Counsel for the City of Detroit and helped push the bill through Lansing. He says the law was necessary because of bogus lawsuits being brought by greedy lawyers.
    He cited a recent ongoing case where a plaintiff alleged she tripped because of a dangerous sidewalk. But in hospital records, she told medical staff she fell over her own shoelace.
    You can still argue the city has liability. But if you have some responsibility for your fall, you can't blame the city for all of it.

    That's of course a simplification. But nobody is saying you can't sue the city, just that the legal requirements to prove responsibility of a city shouldn't be too generous.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wesley Mouch View Post
    No. That's not correct.

    from the article:
    You can still argue the city has liability. But if you have some responsibility for your fall, you can't blame the city for all of it.

    That's of course a simplification. But nobody is saying you can't sue the city, just that the legal requirements to prove responsibility of a city shouldn't be too generous.
    If you're going to read, Wesley, read the whole article....

    "No evidence of fraud
    But of the 174 settlements paid out by Detroit over the last five years, the city admits there’s no evidence that any were fraudulent, including claims like Sheila Herring’s."

    So, it looks like Detroit's inner City sidewalks are in very rough shape, and now there's no incentive to repair them. When you're done reading, take a look @ the video too. Some of those sidewalks have a lot more then "a half inch crack", running through them, and there's no way you can grind down 4" of rising flag to make it even.


    Last edited by Honky Tonk; March-16-17 at 12:29 PM.

  19. #19

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Honky Tonk View Post
    If you're going to read, Wesley, read the whole article....

    "No evidence of fraud
    But of the 174 settlements paid out by Detroit over the last five years, the city admits there’s no evidence that any were fraudulent, including claims like Sheila Herring’s."

    So, it looks like Detroit's inner City sidewalks are in very rough shape, and now there's no incentive to repair them. When you're done reading, take a look @ the video too. Some of those sidewalks have a lot more then "a half inch crack", running through them, and there's no way you can grind down 4" of rising flag to make it even.


    Honky, I read it. Nobody is saying there's fraud. I didn't. The article did say that someone admitted to having their shoelaces untied. Its reasonable to think that might have contributed to their fall.

    The individual circumstances aren't relevant to public policy nor to protecting people walking on the street. What's relevant is how you assign legal blame. If the city sidewalk has a flaw, is it reasonable to require someone to exercise care when walking, and look down?

    Given the city's financial situation, I think this is an area where I don't think our city should be spending money fixing sidewalks to very high standards. I'd prefer the cash go to public safety, community centres, funding retirees pensions. And payments for damages should be reduced, where possible, by the degree to which someone was careless.

    I took the article to say that the standards for the City were higher than for private individuals. Seems like they can be adjusted downwards to match private individuals standard, and we'd still be looking out for our citizens best.

    Back to fraud for a second. Its doesn't have to be fraud to be an inappropriate public expenditure to pay damages to someone who should have been more careful.

  20. #20

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    The geniuses at City Hall should pay a bunch of out-of-work kids the minimum wage every summer for a week to go about the city painting a broad red or yellow stripe along each non-conforming sidewalk seam or crack. Anybody that then injures him or herself would be negligent and the city should never pay out a dime.

    An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

    By the way, the major problem is that the Law Department settles everything rather than taking cases to trial. Once the word got out that every such case will go to trial there would be a hell of a lot fewer cases filed by the shyster lawyers.

  21. #21

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    The administration has taken the correct action on this issue in pursuing the legislature to update the law.

    What a difference a good Mayor can make on the cities financial situation and it's ability to use its revenues on the highest priorities.

    Of course the lawyers are going to be upset. Laws like this have a negative effect on their income.

  22. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by ABetterDetroit View Post
    The administration has taken the correct action on this issue in pursuing the legislature to update the law.

    What a difference a good Mayor can make on the cities financial situation and it's ability to use its revenues on the highest priorities.

    Of course the lawyers are going to be upset. Laws like this have a negative effect on their income.
    They have even a more negative effect on people that actually live in the City and have to deal with crappy City services day in and day out.

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