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Dennis Goebel Wins Interlocutory Appeal In Products Case On Important Issue Involving Non-Party Fault Of An Employer

In Sandusky v McNally Electric, Inc., we filed a notice of non-party fault of the employer in a products liability case.  Plaintiff then amended the complaint and added the employer as a direct defendant. At the end of discovery, the employer filed a motion for summary disposition which was “opposed” by the plaintiff. The trial court granted summary disposition in favor of the employer finding that there was no evidence of intentional act. Thereafter, plaintiff moved to strike our notice of non-party fault alleging that the employer owed no duty to the employee and in addition, that since the court granted summary disposition for the employer that it precluded our notice of non-party fault.  We took an interlocutory appeal which was accepted by the Court of Appeals.  Briefs were submitted to the Court of Appeals which decided the issue without oral argument.  The Court of Appeals found that the plain language of the comparative fault statutes, MCL 600.2957 and 600.6304, allows the employer to be identified as a non-party at fault. Further, it held that there is no conflict with the Worker’s Disability Compensation Act, MCL 418.101. The Court of Appeals ruled that the trial court erred in both concluding that a duty is required in order to assess fault against the non-party and that there was no duty owed to plaintiff by the employer in the case.