Mich. can't be sued over poor trail upkeep
The Michigan Supreme Court says the state has no obligation to maintain a northern Michigan trail, dismissing a lawsuit by a woman who sued after suffering serious back injuries when her ATV hit a partially buried board.
The 4-3 decision, issued last month, means people who are injured on state's off-road vehicle routes cannot sue the state over flaws in the terrain.
The case stemmed from an accident in which a woman flipped her ATV over exposed boards on the Little Manistee Trail in Lake County. She then hit some trees along the path, which caused spinal injuries.
She sued the Department of Natural Resources saying the state has the same obligation to maintain trails for the safety of ATV and snowmobile drivers as it does to maintain highways for people driving cars. She argued that trailways fall under the definition of state highways.
But the court's conservative majority said the unpaved Little Manistee Trail is not a road or highway, a designation that would require the state to maintain it. The three dissenting justices noted that the trail has many signs that qualify it as a highway, including stop signs, weight limits and curve warnings.
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