Klanseck v. Anderson Sales & Service, Inc.

393 N.W.2d 356 (1986)

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Klanseck v. Anderson Sales & Service, Inc.

Michigan Supreme Court
393 N.W.2d 356 (1986)

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Facts

Stephen Klanseck (plaintiff) purchased a motorcycle from Anderson Sales & Service, Inc. (Anderson) (defendant). After the sale, Klanseck was riding the motorcycle home when it began to fishtail. Klanseck applied the brakes, and the motorcycle slid sideways and fell, injuring Klanseck. Klanseck originally received only sutures in his left arm. Twelve days later, Klanseck was diagnosed with a fracture of his right wrist and received treatment. Klanseck claimed to be experiencing ongoing bouts of numbness and tingling that interfered with his work and impacted his mental health. About a year after the accident, Klanseck was referred to a neurologist and was treated multiple times for numbness, tingling, and pain. The neurologist recommended that Klanseck undergo further diagnostic tests, but Klanseck declined, saying that he would do the tests only if his condition worsened. Klanseck sued Anderson, seeking damages for his injuries. Anderson countered that Klanseck’s own negligence was a cause of his injuries because a more experienced, competent motorcyclist would not have applied the brakes when fishtailing but instead would have allowed the motorcycle to coast to a stop, preventing its fall. In addition to an instruction on comparative negligence, the trial judge instructed the jury that Klanseck had a duty to use ordinary care to minimize his own damages and that the jury could not compensate Klanseck for any damages resulting from a failure to exercise such ordinary care. Klanseck objected to the instruction, arguing that there was no evidence he failed to mitigate his damages. However, the trial judge deemed the evidence of failure to follow the doctor’s recommendations sufficient to support the instruction. The jury found Anderson negligent but concluded that Klanseck was 60 percent responsible for his own injuries and reduced damages accordingly. The court of appeals affirmed, and Klanseck appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Williams, C.J.)

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