2 snowmobilers win key decision in lawsuit against DNR

CHESTONIA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Two snowmobilers have won a key decision in a lawsuit over injuries in an incident with officers from the Department of Natural Resources.

Audrey West said she was thrown into a river in Antrim County while her father, Randy West, was pinned under the snowmobile. They said two Michigan DNR officers were on snowmobiles on the same road but in the wrong direction.

The DNR said it's immune to liability. But negligent operation of a motor vehicle typically is an exception to governmental immunity.

The snowmobiles fit that exception because they could be expected to be operated on or along a road, the appeals court said in a 2-1 decision, affirming the opinion of the Court of Claims.

In a dissent, Judge Michael Riordan said he would send the case back to the lower court to consider other factors that could be relevant to the immunity question.