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Proposed Changes to Governmental Immunity

Michigan Supreme Court Considering Change That Would Be Detrimental to Schools and Local Governments


The Michigan Supreme Court is currently considering an amendment to Michigan Court Rules 7.202 and 7.209, which if adopted would negatively impact governmental entities in relation to the defense of governmental immunity. Under the current governmental immunity rules, schools and others have the right to immediate appeal to the Michigan Appeals Court if a trial/circuit court decides to hold a case for trial that the school feels qualifies under governmental immunity. The proposed rule change will remove this right of immediate appeal for schools, local units of government and even the state of Michigan, forcing these entities into costly trials that are currently avoided.

Our objection to this change is not about avoiding responsibility. Under current rules, the Michigan Court of Appeals can evaluate claims of governmental immunity and, if it does not apply, send cases back to the lower courts so that the accusing party can have their “day in court.” The current system’s checks and balances allow for justice to be served through appeals processes, while also protecting schools from unnecessary and costly trials.

This rule change will cost schools a tremendous amount of time and resources that would be better spent on students and in the classroom. Think about the negative impact of the following:

  • Significant legal costs to defend the school through a trial;
  • Lost staff time as teachers, counselors, bus drivers and others sit in court waiting to testify;
  • Eroded confidence of the public as school litigation is pending;
  • Increased pressure to pay a legal settlement, even in situations in which the school believes that immunity applies;
  • Costs of substitute staff to fill the absences created because of a trial;
  • Increases in the number of frivolous claims that would emerge and move forward.

Not only are the above unnecessary and easily avoidable, but they intrinsically damage a school’s ability to focus on its core mission. The current system works and saves tax payers considerable money in situations where governmental immunity applies. We need to protect that system.

Please consider submitting a letter to the Michigan Supreme Court letting them know of your objection to this change. Public comment is being accepted through March 31, and we need you to act quickly. A sample letter can be found below for you to personalize and share with the court.

Don’t sit this issue out. Your input is needed. The public comment period is meant for this very purpose, and the Michigan Supreme Court wants to hear from you.

Public Comment Closes on March 31

Make your voice known by submitting a letter. You can download a sample letter with relevant examples and talking points below.

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