Michigan court throws out $1M verdict in boy’s death at fair

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — The state appeals court threw out a $1 million verdict in the death of a 6-year-old boy who was riding a bike to see his pony when he was struck by a pickup truck at the Northwestern Michigan Fair.

The court ordered a new trial, saying jurors should have been allowed to consider possible negligence by Ezekiel Goodwin’s father, who allowed him to ride alone on a service road. A judge in Grand Traverse County had specifically instructed jurors to not consider it.

A pickup backed into Ezekiel while he was on a road between his family’s campsite and a barn. The Goodwin family was participating in 4-H events at the 2012 fair near Traverse City. The lawsuit alleged that the road was dangerous and should have been closed to vehicles.

The fair, however, argued that Jeff Goodwin was at fault for allowing his son to ride alone. Goodwin said he believed the road was not open to motor vehicles during the fair, although he conceded that he saw some.

“On the whole, there is significant evidence supporting the conclusion that Jeff knew or should have known that the service drive was being used by motor vehicles. … Consequently, (the fair) was entitled to argue Jeff’s fault to the jury and the jury should have been allowed to apportion fault to Jeff,” the appeals court said Tuesday.

The Goodwin family reached an out-of-court settlement with the driver of the pickup truck.

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