In Fries v Mavrick Metal Stamping, Inc, et al, the Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's decision denying defendants' motion for summary disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(10) in a published opinion. In Fries, the plaintiff was injured at work when her lose clothing triggered operation of a stamping machine while her hands were underneath the moving parts. She presented deposition testimony to the trial court illustrating that both a manager and supervisor at Mavrick had been advised that loose clothing actually did trigger operation of the machine on a prior occasion. Although the machine operator was not injured on the previous occasion, his deposition testimony revealed that the incident caused him to button his clothing behind his back any time he operated that particular stamping machine.
Despite defendants' argument that plaintiff's claim did not fall within the intentional tort exception to the WDCA, the Court of Appeals, in an opinion authored by Judge Gleicher, agreed with the trial court that the pleadings created a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the tort exception applied.
The COA cited the Michigan Supreme Court's decision in Golec v Metal Exch Corp, to dispel defendants' claim that testimony illustrating that management had been advised that the machine that injured plaintiff had been triggered by loose clothing on a prior occasion did not create a fact issue regarding actual knowledge. Defendants' argument was premised on the fact that nobody was injured on the prior occasion and therefore, plaintiff could not establish that there was any disregard of an injury that was certain to occur.
In Golec, the Supreme Court explained that where the facts alleged by a plaintiff, if established at trial, establish a continually operative dangerous condition known to defendant, then a genuine issue of material fact is presented regarding whether the injury was certain to occur. In this case both the trial court and COA concluded that the evidence presented, if proven at trial, established that the potential of loose clothing triggering operation of heavy machinery was a continually operative dangerous condition which management knew of, consequently there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether injury was certain to occur.