Sidewalks and SOL on judiciary committee’s agenda

The House Judiciary Committee is considering HB 4589, which would give municipalities the benefit of the “two-inch rule” for any sidewalk they maintain.

The “two-inch” rule creates a rebuttable inference that a sidewalk is properly maintained if the height difference between two slabs is less than two inches.

The legislation would apply the two-inch rule to sidewalks adjacent to municipal and state highways, in addition to sidewalks adjacent to county highways.

The bill also revises how the term “highway” is defined. Currently, the term means a public highway, road, or street that is open for public travel and includes bridges, sidewalks, crosswalks, trailways, and culverts on the highway and does not include an alley, tree, or utility pole.

The bill would delete the reference to “trailways” and “culverts” and add “an appurtenance” to the list of things that “highway” does not include.

The bill affects MCL 691.1401, MCL 691.1402 and MCL 691.1402a.

The committee will also consider SB 77, which would amend MCL 600.5805 and MCL 600.5839 to make actions against architects, professional engineers, and professional surveyors subject to the two-year statute of limitations on malpractice actions.

The legislation would remove language under which the period of limitations on actions against those professionals and contractors is governed by MCL 600.5839.

SB 77 would legislatively overrule the Michigan Supreme Court’s decision in Ostroth v. Warren Regency, 474 Mich. 36 (2006). In Ostroth, the MSC ruled that MCL 600.5805(14) unambiguously directs that the period of limitations for actions against architects is provided by MCL 600.5839(1). Moreover, the six-year period of MCL 600.5839(1) operates as both a statute of limitations and a statute of repose.”

Critics of Ostroth say the decision allows too much time in which to sue architects, professional engineers and contractors.

The committee’s hearing on the legislation is scheduled for June 16, 2011, 521 House Office Building, Lansing, at 10:30 a.m.

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Financial manager, Detroit School Board continue court clash

Robert Bobb, the emergency financial manager for the Detroit Public Schools, won a court victory Friday against the school board in the battle over control of the district operations, reports The Lansing State Journal.

According to The LSJ:

Wayne County Third Judicial Circuit Court Judge Wendy Baxter ruled Friday that the school board has to rescind its decision to hire a treasurer because Bobb has authority over the finances.

Baxter granted Bobb’s request for an injunction to bar the board from moving forward with plans to appoint a treasurer. …

While Bobb won Friday’s battle, the court war continues as the board is still suing him, saying he has overstepped his legal authority by making academic decisions and that he has violated state law by not consulting the board on financial plans.

Bobb is countersuing, saying the board usurped his hiring authority by voting to make the acting superintendent permanent.

Bobb may have the upper hand.

The LSJ reports that he “has eliminated the board’s budget, saying he will not provide funding for the board to sue him.”