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142765 - McCahan v Brennan

Christina McCahan,
 
Christian P. Collis
 
Plaintiff-Appellant,
 
v
(Appeal from Ct of Appeals
 
 
(Court of Claims)
 
Samual Kelly Brennan,
 
 
 
Defendant,
 
and
 
 
University of Michigan Regents,
 
Karl V. Fink
 
Defendant-Appellee.
 

Summary

​On December 12, 2007, Christina McCahan was injured in a collision with a vehicle owned by the University of Michigan and driven by a university employee. On May 7, 2008, McCahan’s attorney sent a written notice addressed to the university’s Office of Legal Counsel, explaining that McCahan intended to sue. Three weeks later, a senior claims representative from the university’s Risk Management Services sent a letter acknowledging the attorney’s letter and indicating that the university intended to conduct a full investigation into the incident. The representative also requested additional information from McCahan, including a statement by McCahan, and copies of medical records and medical bills. McCahan provided the university with her statement on June 12, 2008, the six-month anniversary of the accident. She also provided copies of all documentary materials available at that time, including the police report and her medical records. On October 31, 2008, McCahan filed a letter of intent with the Court of Claims, which was signed by McCahan and her attorney. McCahan filed her lawsuit in the Court of Claims on December 5, 2008.

The university moved to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that McCahan had failed to satisfy the requirements of MCL 600.6431(3), which states that, in “all actions for property damage or personal injuries” against the state, a claimant “shall file with the clerk of the court of claims a notice of intention to file a claim or the claim itself within 6 months following the happening of the event giving rise to the cause of action.” The trial court agreed with the university and granted its motion.

McCahan appealed, and the Court of Appeals affirmed in a split published opinion. The majority rejected McCahan’s claim that she substantially complied with the requirements of the statute, and her alternative argument that the university failed to show that her delay caused it prejudice. Citing Rowland v Washtenaw Co Rd Comm, 477 Mich 197 (2007), the majority held that MCL 600.6431(3) had to be applied as written. Because McCahan failed to file a notice with the Clerk of the Court of Claims within six months, as required by the statute, her lawsuit was properly dismissed, the majority held. The dissenting Court of Appeals judge would have reversed the trial court’s grant of summary disposition to the university and remanded the case for trial: “Clearly, the university had actual knowledge of plaintiff’s intention to file a claim within six months following the accident.” McCahan appeals.