Court peels some immunity in cases against public agencies

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DETROIT (AP) — The Michigan Supreme Court has struck down an award of $767,000 for a Lansing-area woman who aspired to be a dental hygienist before her car was hit by a state salt truck.

In a 7-0 decision, the court says compensation from public agencies for the loss of work as well as pain and suffering is allowed under Michigan law. But in the case of Heather Hannay (HANN'-ay), the court says a judge was too generous because it's unclear whether she would have been accepted into a dental hygienist program and entered the profession.

Writing for the court, Justice Brian Zahra says there are too many uncertainties.

The Supreme Court on Friday sent Hannay's case back to the lower court for another calculation. The court didn't upset Hannay's $475,000 award for pain and suffering related to her injuries.

In 2007, Hannay was 22 when her Oldsmobile was struck by a Michigan Transportation Department salt truck after the driver went past a stop sign. Hannay, now 30, says she's had five shoulder surgeries and probably will need another.

She works at a small gift store but a career as a dental hygienist is unlikely because of the strain on her shoulders and neck.

"It's been almost eight years and every day I'm in pain," Hannay said Saturday. "When it's cold, my shoulder is just horrible. I'm still a mess from it."

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