Daily Briefs

WMU-Cooley board member James Butler III dies, 77

WMU-Cooley Law School Board of Directors member James W. Butler III, 77, died, Friday, Aug. 7. He served on the law school’s board of directors since 2007. As a board member, he served on multiple committees, including: Executive, Audit, Strategic Planning, Nominating, Straits, and Investment.

“On behalf of our entire board, we extend our condolences to his wife, Rishan, and his entire family,” said WMU-Cooley Board Chair and 54-A District Court Judge Louise Alderson. “James was an active and trusted member of our community and WMU-Cooley Board. A friend to colleagues and faculty alike, James was a long-serving member of our Straits Committee whose purpose is to strengthen and bridge the communication and relationship between the board and faculty.”

In addition to serving on WMU-Cooley’s Board, Butler served on the boards of the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Lansing Entertainment and Public Facilities Authority, the Sparrow Health System, and Physicians Health Plan.

In 2014, Volunteers of America recognized Butler with the John E. Demmer Award.

Butler was only the second Black person to lead the chamber’s board of directors – and he also led the Lansing Regional Chamber's Political Action Committee.

Butler served as a member of the Dr. Martin Luther King Commission of Mid-Michigan and Michigan’s Broadband Authority.  He was employed for 30 years by IBM and was a veteran of the U.S. Army. While in the Army, Butler served in Vietnam and received two Purple Hearts and four Bronze Stars.


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.


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