Car gets stuck in sinkhole, damage is being paid for as a goodwill gesture.

LINCOLN PARK, Mich. (WXYZ) - When you look at the picture of Monica Fry's car sticking out of a hole in the ground last month, it seems to defy gravity.

Fry contacted 7 Action News after she said she learned Lincoln Park was not paying for the damage. We contacted the city and were told it was a decision made by its insurance provider, the Michigan Municipal League. 

Taking a look at what happened, Fry says her boyfriend was trying to park along Mill Street. It looked like solid road. He didn't realize it was actually thin ice over the hole where there had recently been a water main break.

“We hit the ground,” said Monica Fry.

Fry says the people she was visiting on that street told her that city crews had worked on a water main break there in February, then never finished the work. Three cones next to the hole had fallen inside it when it rained on the street that neighbors said had a history of flooding.

The cost of the tow and repairs to her car added up to about $1,500.

The insurance adjustor there turned down the claim, saying the city wasn't liable.

"We have 30 days to fix any problems in the street once we have been notified of it," was the reason given to Joseph Merucci, Lincoln Park's City Manager.

7 Action News contacted Attorney Alyson Oliver from The Oliver Law Group in Rochester for an unbiased look at the law.

She said that in general the city does have 30 days after being notified to fix a problem in a roadway, but that is not always the case.

"Even if it hadn’t been 30 days, there is an argument that the city had constructive knowledge of the defect, because they had already fixed the problem once - they appear to simply have done a poor job doing so and failed to maintain their equipment surrounding the repair," said Oliver.  "The question then would be, did they have reasonable time to repair it?"

Seven Action News contacted the Michigan Municipal League and raised Monica Fry's opinion that the city didn't need to be told 30 days prior because she felt they had caused the sinkhole when fixing a water main break.

The city of Lincoln Park's insurance provider, the Michigan Municipal League re-opened the claim.  It tells Seven Action News it believes its decision was in line with the law, but says they are going to pay for damage to Monica Fry's car as a goodwill gesture. 

 

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