Attorneys Gary C. Rogers and Ryan K. Kauffman successfully defended an appeal in the Michigan Court of Appeals on behalf of their client, a private Michigan campground. The plaintiffs, an injured motorcyclist and his passenger-wife, brought suit against their client claiming that the campground had failed to design and maintain its entrance and exit driveways in a manner that would minimize risk of harm to those traveling on the adjacent highway. The plaintiffs were injured when a driver, who was attempting to turn left into the campground, suddenly realized that he was turning into the exit drive. The driver then veered back into traffic and collided head-on with the plaintiffs' approaching motorcycle.
The plaintiff asserted claims of negligence and nuisance against the campground contending that the driver had turned back into oncoming traffic after he noticed a spike strip laying across the exit drive some distance from the edge of the highway. The spike strip had been installed to prevent visitors from entering the wrong driveway and potentially colliding with those vehicles attempting to leave the campground. The plaintiffs, however, contended that the spike strip created an unreasonable risk of harm to those traveling on the highway.
The trial court dismissed the plaintiffs' lawsuit concluding that the plaintiffs had failed to allege that the spike strip was so near the road that the driver was unable to clear the way for oncoming traffic and still stop short of the strip. On appeal, the Court of Appeals agreed and affirmed the trial court's dismissal of the plaintiffs' lawsuit.
The Court of Appeals concluded that imposing a duty on the campground would extend the obligations that property owners owe to the general public beyond the contours of existing case law. Previous cases have held that a property owner may be liable to travelers on an adjacent highway where the owner allows a tree or some other obstruction to exist on his or her property that prevents a visitor who is leaving the property from seeing oncoming traffic and an accident then results. However, the Court distinguished those cases because the spike strip at issue did not obstruct the driver's view or otherwise contribute to the accident. The Court held that because the risk of harm allegedly caused by the spike strip was not reasonably foreseeable, the campground was not responsible for the accident or liable for the plaintiffs' injuries.