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Duncan Woods groundskeeper suit set aside

Becky Vargo • Jul 21, 2015 at 12:39 PM

All three lawsuits were filed on behalf of Diane Nash, mother of Chance Nash, an 11-year-old Nunica boy who died Dec. 31, 2009, after his sled hit a stump at the base of a hill at Duncan Memorial Park.

Attorney John Tallman, who represents the Nash family, said the lawsuit against the park's groundskeeper was adjourned last week by Ottawa County Circuit Judge Jon Hulsing, “until a determination can be made in the other cases.”

Hulsing had previously dismissed lawsuits filed against the Duncan Park Commission and the Duncan Park trustees and trust.

The commissioners, or trustees at the time, were Ed Lystra, Jerry Scott and Rodney Griswold.

A year ago, an appeal on the first lawsuit was filed with the Michigan Court of Appeals, Tallman said. Last week, the Grand Rapids attorney filed a brief on the second appeal. Those two appeals are being consolidated and will be heard as one case, Tallman said.

The lawsuits asked for in excess of $25,000 in damages for the family and claimed that the members of the Duncan Woods Commission had the responsibility to maintain what is known as a popular sledding area in Grand Haven.

In a previous story, Lystra said the boy was not injured in one of the park's normal sledding areas — off Woodlawn Avenue or by the park’s picnic area.

The first lawsuit was dismissed because the judge said the commission was part of the city's government and thus had immunity, Tallman said.

The second lawsuit was dismissed because the judge said the trust doesn’t exist. There are no trustees. The city owns the park, Tallman said.

Since the decision on the second case was made late last year, there was a need to clarify the ordinance that establishes the park's commission, City Manager Pat McGinnis said. With the ordinance changed, a new five-member city-appointed commission has been seated.

The park's groundskeeper, Bob DeHare, said he recently met with the commission and they voted to keep him on the job.

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

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