A state court has denied an appeal filed by the Road Commission for Oakland County (RCOC) involving the Oakland County Circuit Court’s dismissal of a request for summary disposition in a 2008 lawsuit against the road commission and Supreme Sweeping Services following a White Lake Township motorcycle accident in which the biker suffered serious injuries.
The case is now schedule for a pre-trial hearing in Oakland County Circuit Court on Sept. 9, but RCOC Spokesman Craig Bryson said the road commission is still reviewing options about how to proceed and whether to take the latest ruling to the Michigan Supreme Court.
“We don’t know if we are going to appeal that decision or not yet,” he said. “We still think that it (the motion for summary disposition) was a good motion. The appeals court did not rule that we were incorrect; they just concluded that there’s not enough facts to, at this point, agree with the summary disposition.”
In his lawsuit against the RCOC, Joseph Paletta states that while riding his motorcycle northbound on Union Lake Road near Glasgow Drive, just south of Elizabeth Lake Road, he lost control of his bike after striking a patch of loose gravel in the travel portion of the road. He alleged that the RCOC created the hazard by improperly scraping the road’s gravel shoulders and failing to sweep the debris from the road in accordance with industry standards.
Glenn H. Oliver, the attorney representing Paletta at both the circuit and appellate court level, said Paletta “hit the gravel, his back tire spun out, he went head-over-heels and ended up in the ditch” in the August 2006 accident.
He said Paletta tore a rotator cuff in his shoulder, fractured bones in his left leg, suffered a herniated disc requiring surgery, along with numerous other broken bones and dislocations.
“He’s had some pretty bad damages,” Oliver said, adding that he is only allowed to say that his client is seeking more than $25,000 in damages.
“There was an eyewitness to this accident. The police report indicates that the reason he spun out was because of gravel in the roadway, and the eyewitness supported our case that it was the road commission that created it,” Oliver said.
The RCOC asked that Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Wendy Potts summarily dismiss the case; she declined that motion. The road commission argued that Paletta’s attorneys couldn’t establish that the RCOC had “actual or constructive notice of the condition” of the roadway to be held legally responsible for the accident. The RCOC also argued that “the presence of gravel on a roadway is not a ‘defect’ and does not make a roadway unreasonably safe for public travel,” according to a Michigan Court of Appeals opinion dated Thursday, July 21.