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\\s e r v e r 0 5 \p r o d u c t n \N \N Y S \5 9 -2 \N Y S 2 0 2 .

t x t u n k n o w n S e q : 1 3 -A P R -0 3 1 3 :5 2

“ D IC E L O A D IN G ” R U L E S O F
S T A T U T O R Y IN T E R P R E T A T IO N
M A U R A D . C O R R IG A N & J. M IC H A E L T H O M A S *

“ R u le F o r ty -tw o . A ll p e r s o n s m o r e t h a n a m ile h ig h t o le a v e t h e
c o u r t.” E v e r y b o d y lo o k e d a t A lic e .
“ I ’m n o t a m ile h ig h ,” s a id A lic e . . ., “ b e s id e s , th a t’s n o t a r e g u -
la r r u le : Y o u in v e n te d it ju s t n o w .”
“ I t’s th e o ld e s t r u le in th e b o o k ,” s a id th e K in g .
“ T h e n it o u g h t to b e N u m b e r O n e ,” s a id A lic e .
T h e K in g tu r n e d p a le , a n d s h u t h is n o te b o o k h a s tily .1
In o u r g o v e r n m e n t o f se p a r a te d p o w e r s, it is a x io m a tic th a t th e
le g isla tu r e m a k e s th e la w s, th e e x e c u tiv e b r a n c h e n fo r c e s th e la w s,
a n d th e ju d ic ia r y in te r p r e ts th e la w s . J u d g e s , h o w e v e r , s o m e tim e s
u s e p r e f e r e n t ia l, o r “ d ic e -lo a d in g ,” 2 r u le s t o “ in t e r p r e t ” la w s w it h o u t
r e g a r d to th e p la in m e a n in g o f th e la n g u a g e in a sta tu te . T h is
m o d e o f in te r p r e ta tio n o fte n p e r m its ju d g e s to u s u r p le g is la tiv e
p o w e r . T h e p r o p e r m e th o d o f in te r p r e ta tio n r e q u ir e s a ju d g e to tr y
to d isc e r n th e fa ir m e a n in g o f th e sta tu to r y te x t, fr e e fr o m d ic e -
lo a d in g r u le s.
T h e u se o f p r e fe r e n tia l r u le s is o n e o f a h a n d fu l o f p r a c tic e s
th a t a llo w s in te r p r e te r s to d isr e g a r d th e te x t o f a sta tu te . A b e tte r
k n o w n — b u t e q u a lly ille g itim a te — p r a c tic e is th e u se o f le g isla tiv e
h isto r y . T h e U n ite d S ta te s S u p r e m e C o u r t itse lf h a s r e c e n tly r e p u -
d ia te d th e u se o f le g isla tiv e h isto r y to d isc e r n th e m e a n in g o f a c le a r
sta tu te : “ W e se e n o r e a so n to g iv e g r e a te r w e ig h t to th e v ie w s o f tw o
S e n a to r s th a n to th e c o lle c tiv e v o te s o f b o th H o u se s, w h ic h a r e m e -
m o r ia liz e d in th e u n a m b ig u o u s s ta tu to r y te x t.” 3 T h is is a b a s ic
te n e t o f te x tu a lism , a n in te r p r e tiv e p h ilo so p h y th a t p r o m o te s a d -
h e r e n c e to th e a c tu a l te x t o f sta tu te s. Ju stic e A n to n in S c a lia h a s
e x p la in e d th a t “ [ a ] te x t sh o u ld n o t b e c o n str u e d str ic tly , a n d it
sh o u ld n o t b e c o n str u e d le n ie n tly ; it sh o u ld b e c o n str u e d r e a so n a -

* T h e a u t h o r s a r e C h ie f Ju stic e o f th e M ic h ig a n S u p re m e C o u r t a n d L a w
C le r k to C h ie f Ju stic e C o r r ig a n , r e sp e c tiv e ly . W e a r e in d e b te d to le g a l in te r n s
T h o m a s F lic k in g e r a n d Jill T u c k e r fo r th e ir a ssista n c e o n th is a r tic le .
1 . L E W IS C A R R O L L , T H E A N N O T A T E D A L I C E , 1 5 6 ( M a r tin G a r d n e r e d ., W in g s
B o o k s 1 9 9 8 ) ( 1 9 6 0 ) .
2 . A n to n in S c a lia , C o m m o n -L a w C o u r ts in a C iv il-L a w S y s te m : T h e R o le o f th e
U n ited S ta tes F ed era l C o u rts in In terp retin g th e C o n stitu tio n a n d L a w s, in A M A T T E R O F
I N T E R P R E T A T I O N : F E D E R A L C O U R T S A N D T H E L A W , 2 7 – 2 9 ( A m y G u tm a n n e d ., 1 9 9 7 ) .
3 . B a r n h a r t v . S ig m o n C o a l C o ., 5 3 4 U .S . 4 3 8 , 4 5 7 ( 2 0 0 2 ) .

2 3 1
\\s e r v e r 0 5 \p r o d u c t n \N \N Y S \5 9 -2 \N Y S 2 0 2 .t x t u n k n o w n S e q : 2 3 -A P R -0 3 1 3 :5 2

2 3 2 N Y U A N N U A L S U R V E Y O F A M E R IC A N L A W [ V o l. 5 9 :2 3 1

b ly , to c o n ta in a ll th a t it fa ir ly m e a n s .” 4 W h e n a s ta tu te is u n a m b ig -
u o u s, it d o e s n o t “ r e q u ir e a n a r r o w in g c o n str u c tio n o r a p p lic a tio n
o f a n y o th e r c a n o n o r in te r p r e tiv e to o l.” 5
In a d d itio n to le g isla tiv e h isto r y , Ju stic e S c a lia h a s c h a r a c te r -
iz e d m a n y s o -c a lle d d ic e -lo a d in g r u le s o f c o n s t r u c t io n a s ille g it i-
m a te . T h e s e p r e fe r e n tia l r u le s in c lu d e th e r u le o f le n ity ,6 th e r u le
th a t sta tu te s in d e r o g a tio n o f th e c o m m o n la w a r e n a r r o w ly c o n -
str u e d , a n d th e r u le th a t r e m e d ia l sta tu te s a r e b r o a d ly c o n str u e d .
Ju stic e S c a lia sta te s:
T o th e h o n e st te x tu a list, a ll o f th e se p r e fe r e n tia l r u le s a n d p r e -
su m p tio n s a r e a lo t o f tr o u b le . It is h a r d e n o u g h to p r o v id e a
u n ifo r m , o b je c tiv e a n s w e r to th e q u e s tio n w h e th e r a s ta tu te , o n
b a la n c e , m o r e r e a so n a b ly m e a n s o n e th in g th a n a n o th e r . B u t
it is v ir tu a lly im p o ssib le . . . w h e n th e r e is a d d e d , o n o n e o r th e
o th e r sid e o f th e b a la n c e , a th u m b o f in d e te r m in a te w e ig h t. . . .
H o w im p la u s ib le a n im p la u s ib ility c a n b e ju s tifie d b y th e ‘lib -
e r a l c o n str u c tio n ’ th a t is su p p o se d to b e a c c o r d e d r e m e d ia l
sta tu te s? A n d h o w c le a r is a n ‘u n m ista k a b ly c le a r ’ sta te m e n t?
T h e r e a r e n o a n sw e r s to th e se q u e stio n s, w h ic h is w h y th e se
a r tific ia l r u le s in c r e a se th e u n p r e d ic ta b ility , if n o t th e a r b itr a r i-
n e s s , o f ju d ic ia l d e c is io n s .7
W e s h a r e J u s t ic e S c a lia ’s d is t r u s t o f c e r t a in d ic e -lo a d in g r u le s ,
p a r tic u la r ly th e r u le th a t r e m e d ia l le g isla tio n sh o u ld b e lib e r a lly
c o n s tr u e d . J u s tic e S c a lia q u e s tio n s th e a b ility o f ju d g e s to a p p ly th e
r e m e d ia l r u le o f p r e fe r e n c e in a p r in c ip le d m a n n e r . F o r in sta n c e ,
e x a c tly w h a t is r e m e d ia l? 8 E v e r y th in g th a t is n o t p e n a l? H o w lib -
e r a l is a lib e r a l c o n str u c tio n ? Is a lib e r a l c o n str u c tio n o n e th a t
“ m a k e s th e sta tu to r y r u le o r p r in c ip le a p p ly to m o r e th in g s o r in
m o r e situ a tio n s th a n w o u ld b e th e c a se u n d e r a str ic t c o n str u c -
tio n ” ? 9 O r is it o n e in w h ic h “ th e in te n tio n o f a r e m e d ia l sta tu te
w ill a lw a y s p r e v a il o v e r th e lite r a l se n se o f its te r m s” ? 1 0 T h e la tte r
v ie w p a r tic u la r ly sh o u ld tr o u b le a n y o n e w h o v a lu e s o u r d e m o c r a tic
sy ste m o f g o v e r n m e n t. Ju d g e s la c k a u th o r ity to e m p lo y a “ lib e r a l

4 . S c a lia , su p ra n o te 2 , a t 2 3 . R
5 . B a r n h a r t, 5 3 4 U .S . a t 4 6 1 .
6 . S c a lia , su p ra n o te 2 , a t 2 8 . Ju stic e S c a lia c o n c e d e s th a t th e r u le o f le n ity R
m a y b e “ v a lid a te d b y sh e e r a n t iq u ity .” I d . a t 2 9 .
7 . Id . a t 2 8 .
8 . S ee A n to n in S c a lia , A sso r te d C a n a r d s o f C o n te m p o r a r y L e g a l A n a ly s is , 4 0 C A S E
W . R E S . L . R E V . 5 8 1 , 5 8 3 ( 1 9 9 0 ) .
9 . 3 N O R M A N J. S IN G E R , S T A T U T E S A N D S T A T U T O R Y C O N S T R U C T I O N § 6 0 .1 ( 6 t h
e d . 2 0 0 1 ) .
1 0 . R o b in so n v . H a r m o n , 1 1 7 N .W . 6 6 4 , 6 6 5 ( M ic h . 1 9 0 8 ) .
\\s e r v e r 0 5 \p r o d u c t n \N \N Y S \5 9 -2 \N Y S 2 0 2 .t x t u n k n o w n S e q : 3 3 -A P R -0 3 1 3 :5 2

2 0 0 3 ] “ D IC E L O A D IN G ” R U L E S 2 3 3

c o n str u c tio n ” a s a n e x c u se to su b v e r t th e p la in , u n a m b ig u o u s le g is-


la tiv e te x t.
P a r t I o f th is p a p e r d isc u sse s M ic h ig a n c a se s d a tin g fr o m th e
1 9 7 0 s in w h ic h a “ r e m e d ia l” sta tu te w a s c o n str u e d “ lib e r a lly ” a t th e
e x p e n se o f th e sta tu te ’s p la in m e a n in g . P a r t II c o n te n d s th a t th e
M ic h ig a n S u p r e m e C o u r t h a s r e c e n tly m o v e d to w a r d s a te x tu a list
a p p r o a c h t h a t c o n s c io u s ly a v o id s u s e o f d ic e -lo a d in g r u le s . A r e -
c e n t M ic h ig a n c a s e , S ta te F a r m F ir e & C a s u a lty C o . v . O ld R e p u b lic
In su ra n ce C o .1 1 is a h e lp fu l c a se stu d y in a ssig n in g m e a n in g to e v e r y
w o r d in a s t a t u t e ’s t e x t . F in a lly , P a r t I I I e x p la in s t h a t o n e s o -c a lle d
p r e fe r e n tia l r u le “ c a n b e c o n sid e r e d m e r e ly a n e x a g g e r a te d sta te -
m e n t o f w h a t n o r m a l, n o -t h u m b -o n -t h e -s c a le s in t e r p r e t a t io n w o u ld
p r o d u c e a n y w a y .” 1 2 I n p a r tic u la r , th e r u le th a t s ta tu te s in v o lv in g
w a iv e r s o f g o v e r n m e n ta l im m u n ity sh o u ld b e c o n str u e d n a r r o w ly
fa lls in to th is c a te g o r y , a n d , w e a r g u e , d o e s n o t a c tu a lly lo a d th e
d ic e a t a ll.

I.
“ W h y , if a fis h c a m e to m e , a n d to ld m e h e w a s g o in g o n a jo u r n e y , I
s h o u ld s a y ‘W ith w h a t p o r p o is e ? ’ ”
“ D o n ’t y o u m e a n ‘p u r p o s e ’? ” s a id A lic e .
“ I m e a n w h a t I s a y ,” th e M o c k T u r tle r e p lie d in a n o ffe n d e d to n e .1 3
M o s t ju d g e s a g r e e th a t s ta tu to r y in te r p r e ta tio n b e g in s w ith th e
te x t. W h e n th e w o r d s o f a s ta tu te a r e u n a m b ig u o u s , th e ta s k s h o u ld
e n d th e r e — if th e le g isla tu r e h a s c le a r ly sp o k e n , n o th in g is le ft to
c o n str u e . If, o n th e o th e r h a n d , th e te x t is in te r n a lly in c o n siste n t
o r a m b ig u o u s, “ tr a d itio n a l to o ls o f sta tu to r y c o n str u c tio n ” m a y b e
e m p lo y e d to r e s o lv e th e a m b ig u ity .1 4
U n f o r t u n a t e ly , s o m e ju d g e s u s e d ic e -lo a d in g r u le s t o a v o id
g r a p p lin g w ith th e a c tu a l te x t o f a sta tu te . T h a t is, e v e n w h e n fa c e d
w ith a n u n a m b ig u o u s s ta tu te , s o m e ju d g e s n o n e th e le s s e m p lo y
p r e fe r e n tia l r u le s. T h is d isr e g a r d fo r sta tu to r y te x t is a h a llm a r k o f
ju d ic ia l le g is la tio n .
T w o 1 9 7 0 s -e r a c a s e s , o n e d e c id e d b y t h e M ic h ig a n C o u r t o f A p -
p e a ls a n d th e o th e r b y th e M ic h ig a n S u p r e m e C o u r t, e le v a te d th e
r u le th a t r e m e d ia l sta tu te s a r e to b e lib e r a lly c o n str u e d a b o v e th e

1 1 . 6 4 4 N .W .2 d 7 1 5 ( M ic h . 2 0 0 2 ) .
1 2 . S c a lia , su p ra n o te 2 , a t 2 9 . R
1 3 . C A R R O L L , su p ra n o te 1 , a t 1 3 7 .
1 4 . S ee C h e v r o n U .S .A . I n c . v . N a t. R e s . D e f. C o u n c il I n c ., 4 6 7 U .S . 8 3 7 ,
8 4 2 – 4 3 & n .9 ( 1 9 8 4 ) ; s e e a ls o P e o p le v . M c I n tir e , 5 9 9 N .W .2 d 1 0 2 ( M ic h . 1 9 9 9 ) .
\\s e r v e r 0 5 \p r o d u c t n \N \N Y S \5 9 -2 \N Y S 2 0 2 .t x t u n k n o w n S e q : 4 3 -A P R -0 3 1 3 :5 2

2 3 4 N Y U A N N U A L S U R V E Y O F A M E R IC A N L A W [ V o l. 5 9 :2 3 1

a c tu a l te x t o f sta tu te s: W h ite v . M o to r W h eel C o rp . 1 5 a n d D eziel v . D ifco


L a b o ra to ries, In c.1 6

A . W h ite v . M o to r W h e e l C o r p .
A t issu e in W h ite v . M o to r W h eel C o rp . w a s w h e th e r th e p la in tiff’s
c la im o f e m p lo y m e n t d isc r im in a tio n w a s tim e ly file d u n d e r th e
M ic h ig a n S ta te F a ir E m p lo y m e n t P r a c tic e s A c t ( F E P A ) .1 7 S e c tio n
7 ( b ) o f F E P A p r o v id e d :
A n y in d iv id u a l c la im in g to b e a g g r ie v e d b y a n a lle g e d u n la w fu l
e m p lo y m e n t p r a c tic e m a y , b y h im se lf o r h is a g e n t, m a k e , sig n
a n d file w ith th e b o a r d , w ith in 9 0 d a y s a fte r th e a lle g e d a c t o f d is -
c r im in a tio n , a v e r ifie d c o m p la in t in w r itin g , w h ic h s h a ll s ta te th e
n a m e a n d a d d r e ss o f th e p e r so n , e m p lo y e r , la b o r o r g a n iz a tio n
o r e m p lo y m e n t a g e n c y a lle g e d to h a v e c o m m itte d th e u n la w fu l
e m p lo y m e n t p r a c tic e c o m p la in e d o f . . . .1 8
W h ite se n t a n u n sw o r n le tte r to th e M ic h ig a n C iv il R ig h ts C o m -
m issio n c la im in g th a t h e h a d b e e n u n la w fu lly te r m in a te d w ith in th e
p r e s c r ib e d 9 0 -d a y t im e p e r io d . H e d id n o t , h o w e v e r , v e r if y h is c o m -
p la in t u n til m o r e th a n fiv e m o n th s a fte r h is te r m in a tio n .1 9
T h e C o m m issio n in itia lly d e te r m in e d th a t W h ite ’s u n v e r ifie d
le tte r sa tisfie d th e sta tu to r y r e q u ir e m e n t. A r e fe r e e th e r e a fte r r u le d
in W h it e ’s f a v o r a n d t h e d e f e n d a n t -e m p lo y e r a p p e a le d . T h e c ir c u it
c o u r t “ f e lt b o u n d b y t h e 9 0 -d a y r e q u ir e m e n t o f t h e F E P A ,” a n d
r e v e r s e d .2 0
O n r e v ie w , th e M ic h ig a n C o u r t o f A p p e a ls r e v e r se d , d isr e g a r d -
in g th e sta tu to r y la n g u a g e ’s r e q u ir e m e n t o f a v e r ifie d c o m p la in t.
I n its o p in io n , th e m a jo r ity d is c o v e r e d a “ m a jo r c o n flic t” o v e r th e
m e a n in g o f th e te r m “ v e r ifie d c o m p la in t.” 2 1 I n c r e d ib ly , th e m a jo r -
ity d id n o t id e n tify a n y c o n flic t in th e sta tu to r y te r m itse lf. In fa c t,
th e a p p e lla te c o u r t a n d th e d e fe n d a n t a p p a r e n tly a g r e e d o n th e
m e a n in g o f th e te r m .
T h e r e a l c o n flic t r e v o lv e d a r o u n d th e m e a n in g o f th e te r m
“ file .” S p e c ific a lly , th e c o u r t s ta te d , “ W e fin d th a t th e ‘c h a r g e ’ w a s
file d [ w ith in th e sta tu to r y p e r io d ] . . . n o t . . . th e d a te o f th e v e r ifi-

1 5 . 2 3 6 N .W .2 d 7 0 9 ( M ic h . C t . A p p . 1 9 7 5 ) .
1 6 . 2 6 8 N .W .2 d 1 ( M ic h . 1 9 7 8 ) .
1 7 . W h ite , 2 3 6 N .W .2 d a t 7 1 0 ; M IC H . C O M P . L A W S A N N . § 4 2 3 .3 0 1 -.3 1 1 ( W e s t
2 0 0 0 ) , re p e a le d b y P .A .1 9 7 6 , N o . 4 5 3 , § 8 0 4 .
1 8 . W h ite , 2 3 6 N .W .2 d a t 7 1 0 ( q u o tin g M IC H . C O M P . L A W S A N N . § 4 2 3 .3 0 7
( W e st 2 0 0 0 ) , r e p e a le d b y P .A .1 9 7 6 , N o . 4 5 3 , § 8 0 4 ) .
1 9 . Id .
2 0 . Id . a t 7 1 1 .
2 1 . Id .
\\s e r v e r 0 5 \p r o d u c t n \N \N Y S \5 9 -2 \N Y S 2 0 2 .t x t u n k n o w n S e q : 5 3 -A P R -0 3 1 3 :5 2

2 0 0 3 ] “ D IC E L O A D IN G ” R U L E S 2 3 5

c a tio n .” 2 2 I n o th e r w o r d s , th e p la in tiff h a d s u b m itte d a n u n v e r ifie d


c o m p la in t w ith in th e s ta tu to r y p e r io d , w h ic h th e m a jo r ity h e ld h a d
b e e n “ file d .” D e s p ite th e c le a r s ta tu to r y la n g u a g e r e q u ir in g a p la in -
tiff to file a “ v e r ifie d c o m p la in t” w ith in 9 0 d a y s , th e m a jo r ity d e -
c id e d th a t a n u n v e r ifie d c o m p la in t su ffic e d .
I n e s s e n c e , th e m a jo r ity r e w r o te th e p la in la n g u a g e o f th e s ta t-
u te to v a lid a te a n u n tim e ly filin g . T o ju s tify its r e a s o n in g , th e m a -
jo r ity s ta te d th a t “ [ a ] s a r e m e d ia l s ta tu te , w e m u s t c o n s tr u e th e
F E P A lib e r a lly so a s to a ssu r e th e e ffe c tu a tio n o f its sta te d r e m e d ia l
p u r p o s e s .” 2 3 T h e c o u r t d iv in e d a n u n s ta te d s ta tu to r y p u r p o s e a n d
e le v a te d it a b o v e th e c le a r te x t r e q u ir in g th e tim e ly filin g o f a v e r i-
fie d c o m p la in t. T h u s, th e c o u r t su b v e r te d u n a m b ig u o u s le g isla tio n
b y a p p ly in g a d ic e -lo a d in g r u le a t t h e e x p e n s e o f t h e p la in s t a t u t o r y
la n g u a g e .

B . D e z ie l v . D ifc o L a b o r a to r ie s, In c .
T h e s a m e ty p e o f ju d ic ia l le g is la tio n th a t w a s e v id e n t in W h ite is
a lso a p p a r e n t in D eziel. T h r e e c a se s w e r e c o n so lid a te d in D eziel to
c o n s id e r “ w h e n a n d u n d e r w h a t c o n d itio n s a lle g e d m e n ta l d iso r -
d e r s . . . a r e c o m p e n sa b le u n d e r [ M ic h ig a n ’s] W o r k e r ’s D isa b ility
C o m p e n s a tio n A c t o f 1 9 6 9 .” 2 4 T h e th r e e p la in tiffs b e lie v e d th e y
w e r e p h y s ic a lly u n a b le to w o r k a lth o u g h n o n e o f th e m w e r e a c tu a lly
p h y s ic a lly u n a b le to w o r k .
T h e fa c ts o f th e s e c o n s o lid a te d c a s e s fo llo w :2 5
1 . M a ry D eziel h a n d le d te st tu b e s, m ix tu r e s a n d c h e m ic a ls in th e
c o u r se o f h e r e m p lo y m e n t. S h e c la im e d to su ffe r h e a d a c h e s, te n -
s io n , a n x ie ty , a n d d iz z in e ss a fte r d r o p p in g a tu b e o f io d in e . S h e
h a d s u ffe r e d n o p h y s ic a l in ju r y .
2 . Y u su f B a h u e x p e r ie n c e d “ c u ltu r a l d isso n a n c e ” a fte r im m i-
g r a tin g to th is c o u n tr y . H e h a d a ssu m e d “ th e p o sitio n o f a c h ild ” to
h is w ife ’s “ p o s itio n o f th e d e fa c to p a r e n t.” 2 6 H e c la im e d th a t h e
w a s to o p h y s ic a lly in c a p a c ita te d fo r a s tr e s s fu l jo b a t a C h r y s le r
s ta m p in g m a c h in e .
3 . H a r o ld M c K e n z ie b e c a m e n e r v o u s w h e n o th e r w o r k e r s to o k
d e fe c tiv e p a r ts th a t h e w a s r e sp o n sib le fo r c o u n tin g a n d p u t th e m
o n n e w v e h ic le s. H is c o m p u lsiv e p e r fe c tio n ism a lle g e d ly r e n d e r e d
h im p h y sic a lly u n a b le to w o r k .

2 2 . Id .
2 3 . Id .
2 4 . D e z ie l v . D ifc o L a b s ., I n c ., 2 6 8 N .W .2 d 1 , 2 ( M ic h . 1 9 7 8 ) .
2 5 . Id . a t 3 – 6 .
2 6 . Id . a t 2 2 .
\\s e r v e r 0 5 \p r o d u c t n \N \N Y S \5 9 -2 \N Y S 2 0 2 .t x t u n k n o w n S e q : 6 3 -A P R -0 3 1 3 :5 2

2 3 6 N Y U A N N U A L S U R V E Y O F A M E R IC A N L A W [ V o l. 5 9 :2 3 1

N o m e d ic a l e v id e n c e e sta b lish e d th a t th e th r e e p la in tiffs w e r e


p h y s ic a lly u n a b le to w o r k . R a th e r , th e y s u b je c tiv e ly p e r c e iv e d th e m -
se lv e s a s u n a b le to w o r k b e c a u se o f a m e n ta l c o n d itio n . T h e sta tu te
a t issu e in D eziel ( q u o te d fo r th e fir st tim e b y th e D eziel d isse n t)
p r o v id e d :
A n e m p lo y e e , w h o r e c e iv e s a p e r s o n a l in ju r y a r is in g o u t o f a n d in th e
c o u r s e o f h is e m p lo y m e n t b y a n e m p lo y e r w h o is s u b je c t to th is a c t
a t th e tim e o f th e in ju r y , s h a ll b e p a id c o m p e n s a tio n a s p r o -
v id e d in th is a c t. In c a se o f d e a th r e su ltin g fr o m th e p e r so n a l
in ju r y to th e e m p lo y e e , c o m p e n s a tio n s h a ll b e p a id to th e e m -
p lo y e e ’s d e p e n d e n ts a s p r o v id e d in th is a c t. T im e o f in ju r y o r
d a te o f in ju r y a s u s e d in th is a c t in th e c a s e o f a d is e a s e o r in
th e c a s e o f a n in ju r y n o t a ttr ib u ta b le to a s in g le e v e n t s h a ll b e
th e la st d a y o f w o r k in th e e m p lo y m e n t in w h ic h th e e m p lo y e e
w a s la s t s u b je c te d to th e c o n d itio n s r e s u ltin g in d is a b ility o r
d e a th .2 7
T h e m a jo r ity fo c u s e d o n th e “ p la in tiff’s o w n p e r c e p tio n o f r e a l-
ity .” 2 8 T h e m a jo r ity w a s n o t c o n c e r n e d th a t th e s ta tu te d id n o t c o n -
ta in th e w o r d s “ a n e m p lo y e e w h o r e c e iv e s o r p erceiv es a p e r so n a l
in ju r y .” T h e m a jo r ity h e ld :
[ A ] s a m a tte r o f la w , th a t in c a se s in v o lv in g m e n ta l ( in c lu d in g
p s y c h o n e u r o tic o r p s y c h o tic ) in ju r ie s , o n c e a p la in tiff is fo u n d
d is a b le d a n d a p e r s o n a l in ju r y is e s ta b lis h e d , it is s u ffic ie n t th a t
a s tr ic tly s u b je c tiv e c a u s a l n e x u s b e u tiliz e d b y r e fe r e e s a n d th e
W C A B to d e te r m in e c o m p e n s a b ility . U n d e r a “ s tr ic tly s u b je c tiv e
c a u sa l n e x u s” sta n d a r d , a c la im a n t is e n title d to c o m p e n sa tio n
if it is fa c tu a lly e s ta b lis h e d th a t c la im a n t h o n e s tly p e r c e iv e s s o m e
p e r s o n a l in ju r y in c u r r e d d u r in g th e o r d in a r y w o r k o f h is e m -
p lo y m e n t “ c a u s e d ” h is d is a b ility .2 9
T h e c o u r t s u p p o r te d its c o n c lu s io n b y r e a s o n in g th a t “ a s u b je c -
tiv e sta n d a r d is m a n d a te d b y th e r e q u ir e m e n t th a t r e m e d ia l le g isla -
tio n b e c o n s tr u e d lib e r a lly .” 3 0 I n a d d itio n , th e c o u r t s ta te d , th e
“ v e r y g e n e r a l n o tio n o f c a u sa tio n w a s a n d sh o u ld a lw a y s b e r e a d
p r o g r e s s iv e ly o r lib e r a lly .” 3 1 F u r th e r , th e c o u r t s a id , “ [ t] h e s p ir it in
w h ic h c o m p e n sa tio n la w s w e r e e n a c te d sh o u ld n o t b e lo st in le g a lis-
tic to r t n ic e tie s. It is w ith th e se e q u ita b le c o n c e p ts in m in d th a t th is

2 7 . M I C H . C O M P . L A W S A N N . § 4 1 8 .3 0 1 ( 1 ) ( W e s t 2 0 0 0 ) , q u o te d in D e z ie l, 2 6 8
N .W .2 d a t 2 0 n .2 ( C o le m a n , J ., d is s e n tin g ) ( e m p h a s is a d d e d ) .
2 8 . D e z ie l, 2 6 8 N .W .2 d a t 1 1 .
2 9 . Id .
3 0 . Id .
3 1 . Id . a t 1 4 – 1 5 .
\\s e r v e r 0 5 \p r o d u c t n \N \N Y S \5 9 -2 \N Y S 2 0 2 .t x t u n k n o w n S e q : 7 3 -A P R -0 3 1 3 :5 2

2 0 0 3 ] “ D IC E L O A D IN G ” R U L E S 2 3 7

c o u r t a d o p ts th e s u b je c tiv e s ta n d a r d in c a s e s in v o lv in g m e n ta l d is a -
b ilitie s a n d in ju r ie s .” 3 2
T h e m a jo r ity n e v e r id e n tifie d a n y a m b ig u ity in th e s ta tu te its e lf
t o ju s t if y it s r e s o r t t o t h e d ic e -lo a d in g r u le o f lib e r a l c o n s t r u c t io n .
A s th e d is s e n t p o in te d o u t, th e m a jo r ity in je c te d a m b ig u ity b y in -
v e n tin g a v a g u e “ h o n e s t p e r c e p tio n ” s ta n d a r d ,3 3 w h ic h c o u ld “ o n ly
in v ite c o n fu sio n , d iffic u lty fo r th e fin d e r o f fa c t a n d in c r e a se d
a r b itr a r in e s s .” 3 4
T h e se tw o c a se s d e m o n str a te th e p r o b le m s th a t a r ise fr o m c a s-
u a l u se o f th e r u le th a t r e m e d ia l sta tu te s sh o u ld b e lib e r a lly c o n -
str u e d . A p p ly in g th e p r e fe r e n tia l r u le w ith o u t r e g a r d to w h e th e r a
s ta tu te is a m b ig u o u s in e v ita b ly le a d s to ju d ic ia l le g is la tio n . P r e fe r -
e n tia l r u le s g r a n t ju d g e s a lic e n s e to e le v a te th e ir o w n p o lic y p r e fe r -
e n c e s a b o v e th e c le a r m e a n in g o f th e le g is la tio n . W h e n ju d g e s
ig n o r e th e sta tu to r y te x t, c le a r g u id e lin e s a r e lo st. N o sta n d a r d s
e x ist to g o v e r n h o w “ lib e r a lly ” th e sta tu te is to b e c o n str u e d . T h e
r e m e d ia l r u le o f p r e fe r e n c e is th u s d iffic u lt— if n o t im p o ssib le — to
a p p ly in a p r in c ip le d , c o n siste n t m a n n e r .

II.
“ [ A ] h ill c a n ’t b e a v a lle y , yo u k n o w . T h a t w o u ld b e n o n s e n s e — ”
T h e R ed Q u een sh o o k h er h ea d . “ Y o u m a y c a ll it ‘n o n s e n s e ’ if y o u
lik e ,” s h e sa id , “ b u t I’v e h ea rd n o n sen se, co m p a red w ith w h ich th a t
w o u ld b e a s sen s ib le a s a d ictio n a ry!” 35

3 2 . Id . a t 1 5 .
3 3 . I d . a t 2 1 ( C o le m a n , J ., d is s e n tin g ) . A s th e d is s e n t s ta te s :
T h e la n g u a g e c h o s e n to s e t fo r th th e m a jo r ity ’s s ta n d a r d is p a r tic u la r ly d is -
tu r b in g b e c a u se o f its a m b ig u ity . If a c la im a n t “ h o n e stly p e r c e iv e s” th a t
“ s o m e ” w o r k -r e la t e d “ p e r s o n a l in ju r y ” “ c a u s e d ” h is m e n t a l d is a b ilit y , t h e n
c a u sa l n e x u s is e sta b lish e d , r e g a r d le ss o f p r io r p sy c h ia tr ic h isto r y . F o r in -
sta n c e , if a w o r k e r “ h o n e stly p e r c e iv e s” th a t a b r o k e n fin g e r “ c a u se d ” h is
m e n ta l d is o r d e r , is n e x u s to b e e s ta b lis h e d ? W h a t if th e in ju r y is a s c r a p e d
e lb o w ? S u r e ly th e sta tu te m in im a lly r e q u ir e s so m e m ed ica l ev id en ce c o n n e c tin g
th e in ju r y a n d s u b s e q u e n t m e n ta l d is o r d e r b e fo r e n e x u s is e s ta b lis h e d .
I d . a t 2 1 n .3 .
3 4 . I d . a t 2 6 ( C o le m a n , J ., d is s e n tin g ) . A s th e d is s e n t s ta te d , th e m a jo r ity im -
p lic itly r e p e a le d th e sta tu to r y r e q u ir e m e n t th a t “ so m e m ed ica l ev id en ce c o n n e c tin g
t h e in ju r y a n d s u b s e q u e n t m e d ic a l d is o r d e r b e fo r e n e x u s is e s ta b lis h e d .” I d . a t 2 1
n .3 . F o llo w in g D e z ie l, th e M ic h ig a n L e g is la tu r e a m e n d e d th e W o r k e r ’s C o m p e n s a -
t io n A c t to p r o v id e th a t: “ M e n ta l d isa b ilitie s sh a ll b e c o m p e n sa b le w h e n a r isin g o u t
o f a c tu a l e v e n ts o f e m p lo y m e n t, n o t u n fo u n d e d p e r c e p tio n s th e r e o f.” M IC H .
C O M P . L A W S A N N . § 4 1 8 .3 0 1 ( 2 ) ( W e s t 2 0 0 0 ) . S e e R o b e r t s o n v . D a im le r C h r y sle r
C o r p ., 6 4 1 N .W .2 d 5 6 7 , 5 7 3 – 7 4 ( M ic h . 2 0 0 2 ) ( c la r ify in g th e m e a n in g o f th is p r o v i-
s io n a n d o v e r r u lin g th e D eziel in te r p r e ta tio n ) .
3 5 . C A R R O L L , su p ra n o te 1 , a t 2 0 7 .
\\s e r v e r 0 5 \p r o d u c t n \N \N Y S \5 9 -2 \N Y S 2 0 2 .t x t u n k n o w n S e q : 8 3 -A P R -0 3 1 3 :5 2

2 3 8 N Y U A N N U A L S U R V E Y O F A M E R IC A N L A W [ V o l. 5 9 :2 3 1

T o a v o id th e p r o b le m s th a t a r ise fr o m th e u se o f p r e fe r e n tia l
r u le s, th e c a r e fu l a n a ly st m u st u n d e r sta n d a n d a p p ly th e p r o p e r
m o d e o f c o n s tr u c tio n . I n in te r p r e tin g s ta tu te s , th e o b je c tiv e m e a n -
in g o f th e te x t, n o t th e d r a fte r ’s s u b je c tiv e in te n t, is th e tr u e o b je c t
o f in q u ir y . Ju d g e s c a n n o t d e p o se le g isla to r s to a sk th e m w h a t th e y
m e a n t to sa y . C o u r ts h a v e n o in stitu tio n a l c a p a c ity to d isc o v e r w h a t
e a c h in d iv id u a l le g is la to r s u b je c tiv e ly b e lie v e d . E v e n if c o u r ts h a d
th a t a b ility , th e y la c k th e a u th o r ity to e le v a te le g is la to r s ’ s u b je c tiv e
in te n tio n s a b o v e th e la w itse lf. T h e la w , n o t th e la w m a k e r ’s in te n t,
is w h a t m a tte r s in o u r sy ste m o f g o v e r n m e n t. A s Ju stic e S c a lia p u t
it: “ M e n m a y in te n d w h a t th e y w ill; b u t it is o n ly th e la w s th a t th e y
e n a c t w h ic h b in d u s .” 3 6 N e x t, w e r e v ie w tw o r e c e n t M ic h ig a n c a s e s
th a t a d h e r e to a te x tu a list a p p r o a c h .

A . M a ie r v . G e n e r a l T e le p h o n e C o . o f M ic h ig a n
I n M a ie r v . G e n e r a l T e le p h o n e C o . o f M ic h ig a n , th e c o n c u r r e n c e to
a n o r d e r d e n y in g le a v e to a p p e a l e x p la in e d c e r ta in p r o b le m s w ith
th e a p p e lla te c o u r t’s in te r p r e ta tio n o f th e s ta tu te .3 7 T h e “ fir s t p r in -
c ip le o f sta tu to r y in te r p r e ta tio n is th a t th e w o rd s ex p ressed in th e sta tu te
a r e th e la w .” 3 8 W h e n a s ta tu te is u n a m b ig u o u s , c o u r ts h a v e n o a u -
th o r ity to r e so r t to le g isla tiv e h isto r y . In ste a d , th e la w m u st b e a p -
p lie d a s w ritten . T h e w o r d s c o n ta in e d in a la w p a sse d b y th e
le g isla tu r e a n d sig n e d b y th e g o v e r n o r c o n tr o l. L e g isla tiv e h isto r y
d o e s n o t. W e a r e n o t g o v e r n e d in a fa ir , d e m o c r a tic m a n n e r if “ th e
m e a n in g o f a la w [ is] d e te r m in e d b y w h a t th e la w g iv e r m e a n t,
r a th e r th a n w h a t th e la w g iv e r p r o m u lg a te d .” 3 9
C o g n iz a n t o f th e se fu n d a m e n ta l p r in c ip le s, th e M ic h ig a n S u -
p r e m e C o u r t n o lo n g e r s u b s c r ib e s t o t h e s o -c a lle d “ a b s u r d r e s u lt ”
d o c tr in e .4 0 U n d e r th is d o c tr in e , ju d g e s ig n o r e th e p la in la n g u a g e
o f a sta tu te w h e n e v e r th e y d e e m th e r e su lt r e q u ir e d b y th e sta tu te
to b e a b s u r d o r u n ju s t. A ju d g e h a s n o a u th o r ity to d is r e g a r d a la w
v a lid ly e n a c te d b y th e r e p r e se n ta tiv e s o f th e p e o p le m e r e ly b e c a u se
th e ju d g e d is lik e s th e o u tc o m e . A ju d g e ’s p e r s o n a l p r e d ile c tio n r e -
g a r d in g w h a t is u n ju s t o r a b s u r d s im p ly is n o t r e le v a n t.
T h e M a ie r c o n c u r r e n c e fu r th e r o p in e d th a t ju d g e s s h o u ld n o t
a p p ly d ic e -lo a d in g r u le s t o s u b v e r t a n u n a m b ig u o u s s t a t u t e . A
ju d g e ’s fir s t o b lig a tio n is to d e te r m in e w h e th e r a s ta tu te h a s a c le a r

3 6 . S c a lia , su p ra n o te 2 , a t 1 7 . R
3 7 . M a ie r v . G e n . T e l. C o . o f M ic h ., 6 4 5 N .W .2 d 6 5 4 , 6 5 4 ( M ic h . 2 0 0 2 ) ( C o r r i-
g a n , C .J ., c o n c u r r in g ) .
3 8 . Id . a t 6 5 5 ( e m p h a sis in o r ig in a l) .
3 9 . Id . a t 6 5 6 .
4 0 . Id . a t 6 5 5 ( c itin g P e o p le v . M c I n tir e , 5 9 9 N .W .2 d 1 0 2 ( M ic h . 1 9 9 9 ) ) .
\\s e r v e r 0 5 \p r o d u c t n \N \N Y S \5 9 -2 \N Y S 2 0 2 .t x t u n k n o w n S e q : 9 3 -A P R -0 3 1 3 :5 2

2 0 0 3 ] “ D IC E L O A D IN G ” R U L E S 2 3 9

m e a n in g . If it d o e s, th e n th e ju d g e m e r e ly a p p lie s th e la n g u a g e o f
th e sta tu te . If th e sta tu t e is u n c le a r, th e ju d g e sh o u ld th e n a tte m p t
to d e te r m in e th e “ o b je c tifie d ” le g isla tiv e in te n t u n d e r ly in g th e u n -
c le a r w o r d s. If th e sta tu te r e m a in s u n c le a r , o n ly th e n m a y a p re fe r -
e n tia l r u le b e a p p lie d .

B . C r o w e v . D e tr o it
A n o th e r M ic h ig a n c a se , C ro w e v . D etro it, e x e m p lifie s th a t p r e f-
e r e n tia l r u le s h a v e n o p la c e in o u r ju r is p r u d e n c e w h e n a s ta tu te is
u n a m b ig u o u s .4 1 I n C r o w e , th e M ic h ig a n S u p r e m e C o u r t c o n s tr u e d
M .C .L . § 4 1 8 .1 6 1 , p a r t o f th e W o r k e r ’s D is a b ility C o m p e n s a tio n A c t
( W D C A ) :
P o lic e o ffic e r s, fir e fig h te r s, o r e m p lo y e e s o f th e p o lic e o r fir e
d e p a r tm e n ts, o r th e ir d e p e n d e n ts, in m u n ic ip a litie s o r v illa g e s
o f th is sta te p r o v id in g lik e b e n e fits, m a y w a iv e th e p r o v isio n s o f
th is a c t a n d a c c e p t lik e b e n e fits th a t a r e p r o v id e d b y th e m u -
n ic ip a lity o r v illa g e b u t sh a ll n o t b e e n title d to lik e b e n e fits
fr o m b o th th e m u n ic ip a lity o r v illa g e a n d th is a c t; h o w e v e r , th is
w a iv e r sh a ll n o t p r o h ib it su c h e m p lo y e e s o r th e ir d e p e n d e n ts
fr o m b e in g r e im b u r se d u n d e r se c tio n 3 1 5 fo r th e m e d ic a l e x -
p e n se s o r p o r tio n o f m e d ic a l e x p e n se s th a t a r e n o t o th e r w ise
p r o v id e d fo r b y th e m u n ic ip a lity o r v illa g e . T h is a c t sh a ll n o t
b e c o n str u e d a s lim itin g , c h a n g in g , o r r e p e a lin g a n y o f th e p r o -
v isio n s o f a c h a r te r o f a m u n ic ip a lity o r v illa g e o f th is sta te r e -
la tin g to b e n e fits, c o m p e n sa tio n , p e n sio n s, o r r e tir e m e n t
in d e p e n d e n t o f th is a c t, p r o v id e d fo r e m p lo y e e s .4 2
T h e c ity o f D e tr o it o ffe r e d a n a lte r n a tiv e b e n e fits p la n to p o -
lic e o ffic e r s. T h e p la in tiff, O ffic e r C r o w e , e le c te d to r e c e iv e b e n e -
fits u n d e r th e a lte r n a tiv e p la n a n d th u s to w a iv e W D C A b e n e fits.
H o w e v e r , b e n e fit p a y m e n ts u n d e r th e a lte r n a tiv e p la n a fte r 2 5 y e a r s
w e r e ty p ic a lly le ss th a n b e n e fits th a t w o u ld h a v e b e e n a v a ila b le a t
th a t p o in t u n d e r th e W D C A .4 3 T h u s , a fte r r e c e iv in g b e n e fits fo r 2 5
y e a r s u n d e r th e a lte r n a tiv e p la n , th e p la in tiffs so u g h t to r e v o k e
th e ir p r io r w a iv e r s o f W D C A b e n e fits.
T h e issu e in C ro w e w a s w h e th e r th e p la in tiffs c o u ld r e v o k e th e ir
p r io r w a iv e r s o f W D C A b e n e fits. B o th th e c o u r t o f a p p e a ls a n d th e
su p r e m e c o u r t d e c id e d th a t th e p la in tiffs c o u ld n o t. T h e su p r e m e
c o u r t r e a so n e d th a t th e p la in la n g u a g e o f th e sta tu te p r o v id e d th a t

4 1 . C r o w e v . C ity o f D e tr o it, 6 3 1 N .W .2 d 2 9 3 ( M ic h . 2 0 0 1 ) .
4 2 . M IC H . C O M P . L A W S A N N . § 4 1 8 .1 6 1 ( 1 ) ( c ) ( W e s t 2 0 0 0 ) , q u o te d in C r o w e , 6 3 1
N .W .2 d a t 2 9 5 n .1 .
4 3 . C r o w e , 6 3 1 N .W .2 d a t 2 9 5 .
\\s e r v e r 0 5 \p r o d u c t n \N \N Y S \5 9 -2 \N Y S 2 0 2 .t x t u n k n o w n S e q : 1 0 3 -A P R -0 3 1 3 :5 2

2 4 0 N Y U A N N U A L S U R V E Y O F A M E R IC A N L A W [ V o l. 5 9 :2 3 1

th e b e n e fic ia r ie s’ e le c tio n s o f a n a lte r n a tiv e p la n w a iv e d th e ir r ig h ts


u n d e r th e W D C A .4 4 F u r th e r , c la im a n ts a r e n o t “ e n title d to lik e
b e n e fits fr o m b o th th e m u n ic ip a lity o r v illa g e a n d [ th e
W D C A ] . . . .” 4 5
T h e d isse n t in C ro w e a r g u e d th a t th e c o u r t sh o u ld h a v e a p p lie d
th e p r e fe r e n tia l r u le c o n s tr u in g r e m e d ia l s ta tu te s lib e r a lly .4 6 T h e
m a jo r ity , h o w e v e r , d e c lin e d to a p p ly th e p r e fe r e n tia l r u le b e c a u s e
th e s ta tu te w a s n o t a m b ig u o u s . T h e m a jo r ity e x p la in e d th a t e v e n “ if
th e sta tu to r y la n g u a g e w e r e a m b ig u o u s, o u r fir st d u ty is to a tte m p t
to d isc e r n th e le g isla tiv e in te n t u n d e r ly in g th e a m b ig u o u s w o r d s.
O n ly if th a t in q u ir y is fr u itle ss, o r p r o d u c e s n o c le a r d e m o n str a tio n
o f in te n t, d o e s a c o u r t r e so r t to th e r e m e d ia l p r e fe r e n tia l r u le r e -
lie d o n in th e d is s e n t.” 4 7
C ro w e th u s m a k e s c le a r th a t th e r e m e d ia l r u le o f p r e fe r e n c e
m a y b e u se d o n ly a s a la st r e so r t, ev en w h ere a sta tu te is a m b ig u o u s .
Ju d g e s sh o u ld n o t lo a d th e d ic e fo r o r a g a in st a p a r tic u la r r e su lt
u n le ss a n d u n til th e y h a v e e x h a u ste d a ll p o ssib le m e a n s o f d isc e r n -
in g th e o b je c tiv e m e a n in g o f th e te x t.

C . S ta te F a r m & C a su a lty C o . v . O ld R e p u b lic In su r a n c e C o .


D isc e r n in g th e fa ir m e a n in g o f a te x t is o fte n c h a lle n g in g . It
r e q u ir e s a r ig o r o u s, c a r e fu l e x a m in a tio n o f sim p le , e v e r y d a y w o r d s.
J u d g e s s h o u ld h o n o r t h e w e ll-k n o w n p r in c ip le t h a t t h e y “ m u s t g iv e
e ffe c t to e v e r y w o r d , p h r a se , a n d c la u se in a sta tu te , a n d a v o id a n
in te r p r e ta tio n th a t w o u ld r e n d e r a n y p a r t o f th e sta tu te su r p lu sa g e
o r n u g a to r y .” 4 8 W h e n c h o o s in g b e tw e e n c o m p e tin g in te r p r e ta tio n s
o f a sta tu te , a c o u r t m u st d e te r m in e w h ic h in te r p r e ta tio n is b e st
s u p p o r t e d b y t h e e n t ir e t e x t , n o t m e r e ly c h e r r y -p ic k in g p h r a s e s f a -
v o r e d b y o n e p a r ty o r th e o th e r . A c a r e fu l a n a ly sis o f th e te x t is
e sse n tia l to th is a p p r o a c h .
S ta te F a r m & C a s u a lty C o . v . O ld R e p u b lic I n s u r a n c e C o . illu s tr a te s
th a t e v e n th e s m a lle s t w o r d c a n b e o f p a r a m o u n t im p o r ta n c e .4 9 I n
th a t c a se , th e d r iv e r o f a r e n te d tr u c k c r a sh e d th e v e h ic le in to h is
o w n b a k e r y . A d isp u te a r o se b e tw e e n th e r e sp e c tiv e in su r e r s o f th e

4 4 . Id . a t 2 9 7 .
4 5 . Id . ( q u o tin g M ic h . C o m p . L a w s § 4 1 8 .1 6 1 ( 1 ) ( c ) ( 2 0 0 2 ) ) .
4 6 . C ro w e, 6 3 1 N .W .2 d a t 3 0 4 ( C a v a n a g h , J ., d is s e n tin g ) .
4 7 . Id . a t 3 0 0 .
4 8 . S ta te F a rm F ir e & C a s . C o . v . O ld R e p u b lic I n s . C o ., 6 4 4 N .W .2 d 7 1 5 , 7 1 7
( M ic h . 2 0 0 2 ) ( c itin g W ic k e n s v . O a k w o o d H e a lth c a r e S y s ., 6 3 1 N .W .2 d 6 8 6 , 6 9 0
( M ic h . 2 0 0 2 ) ) .
4 9 . S ta te F a rm F ir e & C a s . C o ., 6 4 4 N .W .2 d 7 1 5 . T h e fa c ts w h ic h fo llo w a re
d e r iv e d fr o m th e d isc u ssio n in th e c a se . S ee id . a t 7 1 6 .
\\s e r v e r 0 5 \p r o d u c t n \N \N Y S \5 9 -2 \N Y S 2 0 2 .t x t u n k n o w n S e q : 1 1 3 -A P R -0 3 1 3 :5 2

2 0 0 3 ] “ D IC E L O A D IN G ” R U L E S 2 4 1

tr u c k a n d th e b a k e r y . T h e tr u c k w a s in su r e d b y O ld R e p u b lic , in a
p o lic y in w h ic h th e d r iv e r w a s n o t n a m e d , w h ile S ta te F a r m in su r e d
th e b a k e r y . S ta te F a r m p a id th e d r iv e r fo r th e d a m a g e s a n d th e n
su e d O ld R e p u b lic fo r in d e m n ific a tio n .
M ic h ig a n in s u r a n c e la w r e c o g n iz e s a “ h o u s e h o ld e x c lu s io n .” 5 0
It e x c lu d e s fr o m in su r a n c e c o v e r a g e a n y d a m a g e s to “ [ p ] r o p e r ty
o w n e d b y a p e r so n n a m e d in a p r o p e r ty p r o te c tio n in su r a n c e p o l-
ic y . . . if th e p e r so n n a m e d . . . w a s th e . . . o p e r a to r o f a v e h ic le
in v o lv e d in th e m o to r v e h ic le a c c id e n t o u t o f w h ic h th e p r o p e r ty
d a m a g e a r o s e .” 5 1 T h e s u p r e m e c o u r t e x a m in e d th e s ta tu te to d e -
te r m in e w h e th e r th e d r iv e r h a d to b e n a m e d in “ th e ” ( p a r tic u la r )
in su r a n c e p o lic y c o v e r in g th e v e h ic le , o r m e r e ly in “ a ” p r o p e r ty p r o -
te c tio n p o lic y .5 2
T h e c o u r t h e ld th a t th e te x t o f th e sta tu to r y h o u se h o ld e x c lu -
sio n w a s u n a m b ig u o u s. T h e d r iv e r h a d to b e n a m e d in “ a ” p r o p e r ty
p r o te c tio n in su r a n c e p o lic y a n d b e “ th e ” o p e r a to r o f a n in v o lv e d
v e h ic le .5 3 T h e c o u r t u ltim a te ly r e m a n d e d to d e te r m in e w h e th e r
t h e d r iv e r w a s n a m e d in a n y n o -f a u lt p r o p e r t y p r o t e c t io n p o lic y .
T h e d isse n t o p in e d o th e r w ise , a r g u in g th a t th e p h r a se “ b y a
p e r so n n a m e d in a p r o p e r ty p r o te c tio n in su r a n c e p o lic y ” r e fe r s to
th e situ a tio n “ w h e n th e in d iv id u a l h a s a p o lic y fo r th e v e h ic le in -
v o lv e d in th e a c c id e n t. . . . [ U ] se o f th e a r tic le ‘a ’ is d ic ta te d b y
g r a m m a tic a l c o n s tr u c tio n o f th e s e n te n c e .” 5 4 T h e m a jo r ity r e je c te d
th e d isse n t’s in te r p r e ta tio n — a n in te r p r e ta tio n th a t r e w r o te th e sta t-
u te : “ T h e L e g isla tu r e c h o se th e sp e c ific c o n str u c tio n o f th e se n -
te n c e a n d w a s n o t b o u n d b y a n y p a r tic u la r la n g u a g e o r s tr u c tu r e .” 5 5
If th e w o r d “ th e ” w o u ld h a v e m o r e c le a r ly e x p r e sse d w h a t th e le g is-
la tu r e w a s a tte m p tin g to sa y , th e se n te n c e c o u ld h a v e b e e n e a sily
r e w r itte n .
T h e se th r e e c a se s to g e th e r r e fle c t th a t sta tu to r y in te r p r e ta tio n
in M ic h ig a n a d h e r e s to th e p r in c ip le s c o n siste n tly a r tic u la te d b y
Ju stic e S c a lia . T h e c o u r t a p p lie s sta tu te s a s w r itte n if th e y a r e u n -
a m b ig u o u s, e v e n w h e r e th e r e su lt m a y a p p e a r a b su r d a n d u se o f a
d ic e -lo a d in g r u le w o u ld y ie ld a d if f e r e n t r e s u lt . E v e n w h e r e a s t a t -
u te ’s p la in m e a n in g is a m b ig u o u s, a c o u r t sh o u ld a tte m p t to d is-
c e r n th e o b je c tiv e le g is la tiv e in te n t r e fle c te d in th e a m b ig u o u s
w o r d s r a th e r th a n r e so r t im m e d ia te ly to p r e fe r e n tia l r u le s. E a c h

5 0 . S ee, e.g ., id .
5 1 . M IC H . C O M P . L A W S A N N . § 5 0 0 .3 1 2 3 ( 1 ) ( b ) ( W e s t 2 0 0 0 ) .
5 2 . S ta te F a r m F ire & C a s . C o ., 6 4 4 N .W .2 d a t 7 1 7 .
5 3 . Id . a t 7 1 7 – 1 8 .
5 4 . Id . a t 7 2 0 .
5 5 . Id . a t 7 1 8 .
\\s e r v e r 0 5 \p r o d u c t n \N \N Y S \5 9 -2 \N Y S 2 0 2 .t x t u n k n o w n S e q : 1 2 3 -A P R -0 3 1 3 :5 2

2 4 2 N Y U A N N U A L S U R V E Y O F A M E R IC A N L A W [ V o l. 5 9 :2 3 1

“ w o r d , p h r a se , a n d c la u se in a sta tu te ” m u st b e g iv e n e ffe c t, e v e n to
th e p o in t o f a n a ly z in g th e d iffe r e n c e s b e tw e e n m in u te w o r d s su c h
a s “ a ” a n d “ th e ” in a s ta tu te , a s in S ta te F a r m F ir e & C a s u a lty C o .5 6

III.
H u m p ty D u m p ty b e g a n a g a in . “ T h e y ’v e a te m p e r , s o m e o f th e m — p a r -
tic u la r ly v e r b s : th e y ’r e th e p r o u d e s t— a d je c tiv e s y o u c a n d o a n y th in g
w ith , b u t n o t v e r b s — h o w e v e r , I c a n m a n a g e th e w h o le lo t o f th e m !
I m p e n e tr a b ility ! T h a t’s w h a t I s a y !5 7
S o m e c o u r t s u s e p h r a s e s t h a t im p ly u s e o f a d ic e -lo a d in g r u le
w h e n , in tr u th , th e c o u r ts a r e m e r e ly c o u c h in g a te x tu a list a n a ly sis
in p r e fe r e n tia l te r m in o lo g y . T h is p h e n o m e n o n h a s a r ise n in th e
c o n te x t o f g o v e r n m e n ta l im m u n ity a n d th e e x c e p tio n s to it.
C o u r ts o fte n sta te th a t g o v e r n m e n ta l im m u n ity “ is to b e
b r o a d ly c o n str u e d a n d th e sta tu to r y e x c e p tio n s . . . a r e to b e n a r -
r o w ly c o n s t r u e d .” 5 8 W h ile t h is p r o p o s it io n s o u n d s lik e a d ic e -lo a d -
in g r u le , it a r g u a b ly m issta te s w h a t th e c o u r t is a c tu a lly d o in g .
R e c o g n iz in g th a t e x c e p tio n s to g o v e r n m e n ta l im m u n ity a r e n a r -
r o w ly d r a w n is a v a lid m o d e o f te x tu a l in te r p r e ta tio n b e c a u se th e
c o u r t is n o t im p o s in g n o n -t e x t u a l v a lu e s in t o t h e s t a t u t e . I n o t h e r
w o r d s, th is m a x im is n o t a p r e fe r e n tia l r u le c r e a te d o u t o f th in a ir .
It is p r e fe r e n tia l o n ly in th e se n se th a t th e te x t o f th e sta tu te itse lf is
p r e fe r e n tia l. T h e p la in la n g u a g e o f M ic h ig a n ’s im m u n ity sta tu te s
r e v e a ls th a t th e le g is la tu r e its e lf h a s m a d e a p o lic y c h o ic e in fa v o r o f
im m u n ity a n d a g a in st e x c e p tio n s. T h e im m u n ity g r a n te d to th e
g o v e r n m e n t is v e r y b r o a d w h ile th e sta tu to r y e x c e p tio n s a r e n a r -
r o w ly d r a w n . T w o M ic h ig a n c a se s d e m o n str a te th is p r o p o sitio n .

A . N a w r o c k i v . M a c o m b C o u n ty R o a d C o m m issio n
In N a w ro ck i, th e M ic h ig a n S u p r e m e C o u r t c o n sid e r e d M ic h i-
g a n ’s “ h ig h w a y e x c e p tio n ” to g o v e r n m e n ta l im m u n ity .5 9 I n d e c id -
in g th e c a se , th e c o u r t a n a ly z e d th e sta tu to r y la n g u a g e g r a n tin g
im m u n ity . T h e sta tu te p r o v id e s: “ E x c e p t a s o th e r w ise p r o v id e d in
th is a c t, a g o v e r n m e n ta l a g e n c y is im m u n e fr o m to r t lia b ility if th e
g o v e r n m e n ta l a g e n c y is e n g a g e d in th e e x e r c ise o r d isc h a r g e o f a
g o v e r n m e n ta l fu n c tio n .” 6 0 T h is g r a n t o f im m u n ity is b r o a d ly
w o r d e d . T h e g o v e rn m e n t is im m u n e fr o m a n y to r t lia b ility a n y

5 6 . S ee id . a t 7 1 7 .
5 7 . C A R R O L L , su p ra n o te 1 , a t 2 6 9 .
5 8 . S ee, e.g ., H o r a c e v . C ity o f P o n tia c , 5 7 5 N .W .2 d 7 6 2 , 7 6 4 ( M ic h . 1 9 9 8 ) .
5 9 . N a w ro c k i v . M a c o m b C o u n t y R d . C o m m ’n , 6 1 5 N .W .2 d 7 0 2 ( M ic h . 2 0 0 0 ) .
6 0 . M IC H . C O M P . L A W S A N N . § 6 9 1 .1 4 0 7 ( 1 ) ( W e s t 2 0 0 0 ) .
\\s e r v e r 0 5 \p r o d u c t n \N \N Y S \5 9 -2 \N Y S 2 0 2 .t x t u n k n o w n S e q : 1 3 3 -A P R -0 3 1 3 :5 2

2 0 0 3 ] “ D IC E L O A D IN G ” R U L E S 2 4 3

tim e th e g o v e r n m e n t p e r fo r m s g o v e r n m e n t fu n c tio n s, u n le ss th e
im m u n ity sta tu te s p r o v id e o th e r w ise .
F iv e sta tu to r y e x c e p tio n s to im m u n ity e x ist in M ic h ig a n : th e
h ig h w a y e x c e p tio n ,6 1 th e m o to r v e h ic le e x c e p tio n ,6 2 th e p u b lic
b u ild in g e x c e p tio n ,6 3 th e p r o p r ie ta r y fu n c tio n e x c e p tio n ,6 4 a n d th e
g o v e r n m e n ta l h o s p ita l e x c e p tio n .6 5 T h e h ig h w a y e x c e p tio n is
d r a w n v e r y n a r r o w ly a s it a p p lie s to th e sta te a n d c o u n ty r o a d c o m -
m issio n s. It “ e x te n d s o n ly to th e im p r o v e d p o r tio n o f th e h ig h w a y
d e sig n e d fo r v e h ic u la r tr a v e l a n d sh a ll n o t in c lu d e sid e w a lk s, c r o ss-
w a lk s, o r a n y o th e r in sta lla tio n o u tsid e o f th e im p r o v e d p o r tio n o f
th e h ig h w a y d e s ig n e d fo r v e h ic u la r tr a v e l.” 6 6
In N a w ro ck i, th e M ic h ig a n S u p r e m e C o u r t sta te d th a t it w a s
“ c o m p e lle d to str ic tly a b id e b y th e se sta tu to r y c o n d itio n s a n d r e -
s tr ic tio n s in d e c id in g th e in s ta n t c a s e s .” 6 7 T h is a n a ly s is is n o t e a r th
sh a tte r in g . T h e c o u r t m e r e ly a p p lie d th e u n a m b ig u o u s te r m s o f
th e h ig h w a y e x c e p tio n sta tu te . C o u r ts m u st g iv e th e w o r d s o f th e
s ta tu te s th e ir fa ir , o r d in a r y m e a n in g .6 8 I f c le a r c o n d itio n s a n d r e -
str ic tio n s o n th e a v a ila b ility o f th e e x c e p tio n e x ist, th e n c o u r ts m a y
a p p ly th e e x c e p tio n o n ly if th o se c o n d itio n s a r e m e t. T h u s, in
N a w ro ck i, th e c o u r t h e ld th a t th e g o v e r n m e n t c a n n o t b e lia b le fo r
fa ilin g to “ in sta ll, m a in ta in , r e p a ir , o r im p r o v e tr a ffic c o n tr o l d e -
v ic e s” sin c e th e y w e r e n o t p a r t o f th e r o a d itse lf a s r e q u ir e d b y th e
s ta tu to r y e x c e p tio n .6 9

B . S ta n to n v . C ity o f B a ttle C r e e k
S ta n to n v . C ity o f B a ttle C r e e k a n a ly z e d th e n a r r o w m o to r v e h ic le
e x c e p tio n to g o v e r n m e n ta l im m u n ity ; sp e c ific a lly , it c o n sid e r e d
w h e th e r a fo r k lift is a “ m o to r v e h ic le ” u n d e r th e s ta tu te .7 0 T h e
p la in tiff su e d th e c ity o f B a ttle C r e e k , c la im in g to h a v e su ffe r e d in -
ju r ie s a s a r e s u lt o f f a u lt y b r a k e s o n a c it y -o w n e d f o r k lif t . T h e p la in -
tiff w a s u n lo a d in g h a r d w a r e fo r th e c ity a n d h a d c lo se d h is tr u c k
d o o r w h e n th e fo r k lift su d d e n ly r o lle d fo r w a r d a n d str u c k h im .

6 1 . M IC H . C O M P . L A W S A N N . § 6 9 1 .1 4 0 2 ( W e st 2 0 0 0 ) .
6 2 . M IC H . C O M P . L A W S A N N . § 6 9 1 .1 4 0 5 ( W e st 2 0 0 0 ) .
6 3 . M IC H . C O M P . L A W S A N N . § 6 9 1 .1 4 0 6 ( W e st 2 0 0 0 ) .
6 4 . M IC H . C O M P . L A W S A N N . § 6 9 1 .1 4 1 3 ( W e st 2 0 0 0 ) .
6 5 . M IC H . C O M P . L A W S A N N . § 6 9 1 .1 4 0 7 ( 4 ) ( W e st 2 0 0 0 ) .
6 6 . M IC H . C O M P . L A W S A N N . § 6 9 1 .1 4 0 2 ( 1 ) ( W e st 2 0 0 0 ) , q u o ted in N a w r o c k i v .
M a c o m b C o u n ty R d . C o m m ’n , 6 1 5 N .W .2 d 7 0 2 , 7 1 1 ( M ic h . 2 0 0 0 ) .
6 7 . N a w ro ck i, 6 1 5 N .W .2 d a t 7 1 1 .
6 8 . S ee M IC H . C O M P . L A W S A N N . § 8 .3 a ( W e st 1 9 9 4 ) .
6 9 . N a w ro ck i, 6 1 5 N .W .2 d a t 7 2 3 .
7 0 . S ta n to n v . C ity o f B a ttle C r e e k , 6 4 7 N .W .2 d 5 0 8 ( M ic h . 2 0 0 2 ) . T h e fo llo w -
in g fa c ts a re d ra w n fro m th e c o u r t’s d isc u ssio n o f th e c a se . Id .
\\s e r v e r 0 5 \p r o d u c t n \N \N Y S \5 9 -2 \N Y S 2 0 2 .t x t u n k n o w n S e q : 1 4 3 -A P R -0 3 1 3 :5 2

2 4 4 N Y U A N N U A L S U R V E Y O F A M E R IC A N L A W [ V o l. 5 9 :2 3 1

T h e c ity so u g h t su m m a r y d isp o sitio n o n th e b a sis o f g o v e r n m e n ta l


im m u n ity . T h e c ir c u it c o u r t g r a n te d th e m o tio n , a n d th e c o u r t o f
a p p e a ls a ffir m e d .
O n its r e v ie w , th e M ic h ig a n S u p r e m e C o u r t n o te d th a t th e sta t-
u te a d o p tin g th e m o to r v e h ic le e x c e p tio n d id n o t d e fin e th e te r m
“ m o to r v e h ic le .” 7 1 T u r n in g to la y d ic tio n a r ie s to d e fin e th e c o m -
m o n te r m , th e c o u r t th e n o b se r v e d th a t so m e d ic tio n a r y d e fin itio n s
o f th e te r m in c lu d e fo r k lifts w h ile o th e r s d o n o t.7 2 F a c e d w ith v a r y -
in g d e fin itio n s, th e c o u r t d e te r m in e d th a t sin c e th e m o to r v e h ic le
e x c e p tio n is n a r r o w ly d r a w n w h ile th e sta tu te a ffo r d s b r o a d im m u -
n ity to th e g o v e r n m e n t, th e n a r r o w e st d e fin itio n o f “ m o to r v e h ic le ”
w o u ld “ m o s t c lo s e ly e ffe c tu a te [ ] th e L e g is la tu r e ’s in te n t.” 7 3 U s in g
a n a r r o w d e fin itio n , th e c o u r t r u le d th a t a fo r k lift is n o t a m o to r
v e h ic le , a n d u p h e ld g o v e r n m e n ta l im m u n ity .
T h e d isse n t in S ta n to n a r g u e d th a t a fo r k lift is a m o to r v e h i-
c le .7 4 T h e d is s e n t o p in e d th a t c o m p e tin g m a x im s o f s ta tu to r y c o n -
str u c tio n w e r e in v o lv e d : ( 1 ) w o r d s m u st b e g iv e n th e ir o r d in a r y
m e a n in g , b u t ( 2 ) e x c e p tio n s to g o v e r n m e n ta l im m u n ity m u st b e
c o n s tr u e d n a r r o w ly .7 5 T h e d is s e n t c la im e d th a t th e m a jo r ity h a d
d e p a r te d fr o m th e c o m m o n m e a n in g o f “ m o to r v e h ic le ” b y a p p ly -
in g a n a r r o w d e fin itio n .
T h e m a jo r ity d id n o t v e n tu r e fr o m th e o r d in a r y m e a n in g o f
th e te r m “ m o to r v e h ic le ” w h e n it a d o p te d a d ic tio n a r y d e fin itio n .
T h e d ic tio n a r y su p p lie d th e c o m m o n m e a n in g o f th e te r m . S in c e
th e e x c e p tio n fo r m o to r v e h ic le s is n a r r o w , a n a r r o w d e fin itio n o f
th e te r m is ju s tifie d . T h u s , th e m a jo r ity a d h e r e d to te x tu a lis t
p r in c ip le s.
T h e S ta n to n a n d N a w ro ck i c a se s c la r ify th a t th e m a x im th a t g o v -
e r n m e n ta l im m u n ity sta tu te s sh o u ld b e b r o a d ly c o n str u e d w h ile th e
e x c e p t io n s t o it a r e c o n s t r u e d n a r r o w ly is n o t a t r u e d ic e -lo a d in g
r u le . R a th e r , th e m a x im m e r e ly im p le m e n ts th e p la in m e a n in g o f
M ic h ig a n ’s im m u n ity s ta tu te s .7 6 T h e c o u r ts a r e n o t im p o s in g a p r e f-
e r e n tia l a p p r o a c h b u t a r e m e r e ly d isc e r n in g th e p la in m e a n in g o f
th e sta tu te a n d a p p ly in g it to th e fa c ts o f th e c a se .

7 1 . Id . a t 5 1 1 .
7 2 . Id . a t 5 1 2 .
7 3 . Id . a t 5 1 2 .
7 4 . Id . a t 5 1 4 ( K e lly , J ., c o n c u r r in g in p a r t a n d d is s e n tin g in p a r t) .
7 5 . Id .
7 6 . P e rh a p s th e r u le c o u ld b e w o r d e d d iffe r e n tly to a v o id th e p r e fe r e n tia l
to n e . C o u rts a re o n fir m e r g r o u n d w h e n th e y s ta te , e .g ., th a t th e s ta tu to r y la n g u a g e
g r a n tin g g o v e rn m e n ta l im m u n ity is b r o a d ly w o r d e d a n d th e e x c e p tio n s to it a r e
d ra fted n a r r o w ly .
\\s e r v e r 0 5 \p r o d u c t n \N \N Y S \5 9 -2 \N Y S 2 0 2 .t x t u n k n o w n S e q : 1 5 3 -A P R -0 3 1 3 :5 2

2 0 0 3 ] “ D IC E L O A D IN G ” R U L E S 2 4 5

IV .
C O N C L U S IO N
“ T h e c a u s e o f lig h tn in g ,” A lic e s a id v e r y d e c id e d ly , fo r s h e fe lt q u ite
c e r ta in a b o u t th is , “ is th e th u n d e r — n o , n o !” s h e h a s tily c o r r e c te d h e r -
s e lf. “ I m e a n t th e o th e r w a y .”
“ I t’s to o la te to c o r r e c t it,” s a id th e R e d Q u e e n : “ W h e n y o u ’v e o n c e s a id
a th in g , th a t fix es it, a n d y o u m u st ta k e th e co n seq u en ces.” 7 7
W h e n th e ju d ic ia l b r a n c h d o e s n o t h o n o r th e s e p a r a tio n o f
p o w e r s b u t in ste a d u su r p s th e p o w e r s o f a n o th e r b r a n c h , th e sta b il-
ity o f o u r sy ste m o f g o v e r n m e n t is u n d e r m in e d . A s n o te d in P a r t I,
m a n y p r o b le m s a r ise w h e n c o u r ts le g isla te u n d e r th e g u ise o f a
p r e f e r e n t ia l r u le b y , e .g ., c o n s t r u in g s o -c a lle d “ r e m e d ia l” s t a t u t e s
“ lib e r a lly ” r a th e r th a n r e a so n a b ly . Ju d g e s h a v e a so le m n o b lig a tio n
to in te r p r e t la w s in a c c o r d a n c e w ith th e ir p la in m e a n in g s, a n d n o t
to lo a d th e d ic e fo r a fa v o r e d r e su lt.
M ic h ig a n ’s ju r is p r u d e n c e in r e c e n t y e a r s h a s m o v e d a w a y fr o m
t h e u s e o f d ic e -lo a d in g p r e f e r e n t ia l r u le s , c o n s is t e n t w it h t h e m o d e
o f sta tu to r y in te r p r e ta tio n a d v o c a te d b y Ju stic e S c a lia . T h is m o v e -
m e n t h a s n o t b e e n u n d e r m in e d b y th e la n g u a g e in g o v e r n m e n ta l
im m u n ity c a se s r e fe r r in g to “ b r o a d ” a n d “ n a r r o w ” c o n str u c tio n s.
W h ile g o v e r n m e n ta l im m u n ity c a se s so m e tim e s u se p r e fe r e n tia l te r -
m in o lo g y , th e y a c tu a lly r e fle c t a fa ir r e a d in g o f th e te x t o f th e r e le -
v a n t sta tu to r y p r o v isio n s. In d o in g so , th e M ic h ig a n S u p r e m e C o u r t
h a s h o n o r e d se p a r a tio n o f p o w e r s p r in c ip le s a n d a c te d to p r e v e n t
a b u s e s e n g e n d e r e d b y d ic e -lo a d in g p r e f e r e n t ia l r u le s .

7 7 . C A R R O L L , su p ra n o te 1 , a t 3 2 3 .
\\s e r v e r 0 5 \p r o d u c t n \N \N Y S \5 9 -2 \N Y S 2 0 2 .t x t u n k n o w n S e q : 1 6 3 -A P R -0 3 1 3 :5 2

2 4 6 N Y U A N N U A L S U R V E Y O F A M E R IC A N L A W [ V o l. 5 9 :2 3 1