Duffy v. Dept. of Natural ResourcesAnnotate this Case
Plaintiff Beverly Duffy was injured while riding an off-road vehicle on a trail owned by the State and maintained by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Plaintiff sued both entities, and throughout the litigation brought various theories in an attempt to avoid the grant of governmental immunity to Defendants under the Governmental Tort Liability Act (GTLA). In the lower courts, Plaintiff argued that Defendant ad a duty to keep the trail in reasonable repair under the "highway exception" to governmental immunity because the trial falls within the statutory definition of "highway." On appeal to the Supreme Court, Plaintiff argued that the Court should rule that the trail is either a "forest road" or "road" under the GTLA and that the trail falls under the "highway exception." The Court noted that the issue that belies this case is one of first impression. Upon review of state case law and the case record from the lower courts, the Supreme Court concluded that the trail is not a "highway" under Michigan law. Instead, the Court classified it as a "trailway": "all roads, forest roads, trails, trailways and highways in this case lead to the conclusion that Plaintiff's claim is barred by governmental immunity." The Court affirmed the Court of Appeals' decision that dismissed Plaintiff's case.