Yono v. Dept. of Transportation (Opinion - Leave Granted)Annotate this Case
Helen Yono brought an action in the Court of Claims against the Department of Transportation, seeking damages for injuries sustained when she stepped into a depression in a parallel-parking space and fell. The Department moved for summary judgment under MCR 2.116(C)(7), claiming that it was entitled to governmental immunity. The Department acknowledged its duty, set forth in MCL 691.1402(1), to maintain the “improved portion of” M-22 that was “designed for vehicular travel,” but argued that Yono’s injury had not occurred on that portion of the highway because the parking lane was not designed for vehicular travel. Plaintiff countered that the entire roadbed, from one curb to the other, was designed for vehicular travel. The trial court denied the Department's motion, and a divided Court of Appeals affirmed. The majority observed that “the highway - including that portion designated for parallel parking - is a contiguous whole; the portion where parallel parking is permitted is not physically separated from the center of the highway by a median, driveway, or other barrier.” Guided by precedent and by the admonition to narrowly construe exceptions to governmental immunity, the Supreme Court concluded the parallel-parking lane, designated exclusively as such by painted lines on the highway, was not “designed for vehicular travel” within the meaning of the highway exception. Accordingly, the Court reversed the Court of Appeals, which held otherwise, and remanded for entry of summary judgment on behalf of the Department.