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Michigan Supreme Court “Trips-Up” 2-Inch City Sidewalk Rule

March 23, 2012 / in 2010 spring, Municipal Law, Written by Mike Salhaney

When someone sues a city or village claiming that they tripped and fell on a defective section of sidewalk, cities and villages have been able to defend themselves by demonstrating that the alleged defect was less than 2 inches in height, depth and/or width.

The Governmental Tort Liability Act contains language that it is a rebuttable inference that a sidewalk is in reasonable repair if the alleged defect is under that 2 inch mark. M.C.L.A. §691.1402a.

But all of that changed on April 8th when the Michigan Supreme Court ruled the 2-inch rule only applies to sidewalks adjacent to county highways, NOT sidewalks adjacent to city or village owned sidewalks!

What does this mean for your municipality? It means that your budget will be hit with either greater costs to inspect, maintain and repair your sidewalks, or increased legal costs to defend and/or resolve sidewalk litigation cases. Municipalities are at a greater risk of being sued if someone trips and falls on a sidewalk that is not adjacent to a county highway. If the city or village owns the highway and sidewalk, they are no longer protected by the 2-inch rule.

For a copy of the Court’s opinion as well as a strategic plan on what this ruling means for your municipality, including what to do next, please feel free to call the Municipal Law group at Beier Howlett, P.C. (248) 645-9400, or email msalhaney@bhlaw.us.com.