In Dybata v Wayne County, a published opinion, the COA held that the county was not entitled summary disposition based on governmental immunity because the sewage exception to immunity applied even where the plaintiffs failed to expressly comply with notice requirements. The plaintiffs filed suit against the city and county to recover damages resulting from a sewage back-up after after heavy rainfall. The Defendants filed motions for SD claiming governmental immunity based on plaintiffs' failure to follow notice provisions. Both the district and circuit courts denied the SD, reasoning that plaintiffs' notice of the "event" was sufficient to meet the statutory standard of filing a notice of intent to file a "claim."
The Court of Appeals affirmed for different reasons. The COA concluded that the list of names and addresses of those who had property damage, which plaintiffs provided to the county, was insufficient to meet the notice requirements of the statutory exception to governmental immunity. However, the COA pointed to the Defendant's obligations under the statute, finding that once the county received notice of the "event," it was required to provide the residents with notice of where and how to file notice of intent to file claims against the city and county. Because the residents' failure to provide notice of their claims to the county was the direct result of the county's failure to provide them with information on how to do so, as required by statute, the residents were not barred from filing claims against the city and county.
Accordingly, the county was not protected by governmental immunity because the sewage exception applied. The lower court reached the right result when it denied Defendant's summary disposition, albeit for the wrong reason, and the COA sent Defendant's argument swirling down the drain.