Metro Detroit Personal Injury Lawyer
Generally, the government is immune from tort liability when engaged in a governmental function (see When Can The Government Be Sued?). MCL 691.1417(2) provides that a governmental agency is immune from tort liability for the overflow or backup of a sewage disposal system unless the overflow or backup is a "sewage disposal system event" and the governmental agency is an appropriate governmental agency. If the overflow or backup is a sewage disposal system event, the government is liable.
A "sewage disposal system event" is defined as the overflow or backup of a sewage disposal system onto real property. An overflow or backup is not a sewage disposal system event if any of the following was a substantial proximate cause of the overflow or backup:
- An obstruction in a service lead that was not caused by a governmental agency.
- A connection to the sewage disposal system on the affected property, including, but not limited to, a sump system, building drain, surface drain, gutter, or downspout.
- An act of war, whether the war is declared or undeclared, or an act of terrorism. MCL 691.1416(k).
Under this exception, a governmental agency may be liable for property damage and physical injury if the claimant can show that the governmental agency knew or should have known of a defect in the sewage disposal system; that the agency failed to take reasonable steps to repair, correct, or remedy the defect; and that the defect was a substantial proximate cause of the event and the property damage or physical injury.
To maintain an action against a government agency for a "sewage disposal system event" the plaintiff is required to show each of the following:
- The defendant was an appropriate governmental agency;
- The disposal system had a defect;
- The agency knew or should have known of the defect;
- The agency failed to take reasonable steps in a reasonable time to remedy the defect; and
- The defect was a substantial proximate cause of the injury. MCL 691.1417(3).
Metro Detroit Injury Lawyers is a Bloomfield Hills, Michigan law firm practicing personal injury law. Contact us today at 248-430-8929 for a free consultation and evaluation of your case, with no obligation.