Bill makes it harder to sue Michigan cities for bad sidewalks

Posted at 10:11 AM, Dec 13, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-13 10:11:18-05

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Legislation advancing in Michigan’s Legislature is aimed at further shielding municipalities from lawsuits filed by people who trip and fall on sidewalks.

The legislation, approved 55-51 by the House last week, lets cities defend themselves by saying a sidewalk defect is “open and obvious.”

Supporters say budget-strapped cities such as Detroit pay millions of dollars annually in sidewalk-injury settlements and should be able to use a defense available to businesses. Critics say the bill effectively make cities entirely immune and removes the incentive to properly maintain sidewalks.

Under law, cities aren’t liable unless someone proves the city knew or should have known about the defect at least 30 days before the injury and the unevenness in the walkway is at least 2 inches.

The bill goes to the Senate.