The Michigan Court of Appeals recently reversed the order of summary disposition granted to a defendant driver and Progressive Insurance in an action for third-party no-fault benefits following a car accident.On May 9, 2011, in the City of Bingham Farms, the plaintiff was driving southbound on Telegraph Road when he was struck by the defendant, whose vehicle “entered the wrong turnaround on Telegraph Road,” “failed to yield to oncoming traffic,” drove in front of the plaintiff’s vehicle, and caused a collision. The plaintiff, with his wife, filed a three-count complaint on May 9, 2014 against the driver and Progressive jointly and severally, alleging claims of negligence, underinsured motorist coverage, and loss of consortium resulting from the May 9, 2011 motor vehicle accident. Both defendants answered the complaint, and discovery ensued. Motions for summary disposition followed.
Plaintiffs Fred St. Onge and Karen Ross were hit by a State of Michigan vehicle driven by defendant Ramona G. Smith, an employee of the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA). The lower court granted summary disposition to Smith, pursuant to the Governmental Tort Liability Act (GTLA), reasoning that Smith was entitled to governmental immunity because she was acting within the scope of employment when the crash occurred. The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed.One afternoon in September 2011, Smith inspected a nursing home in Negaunee as part of her employment with LARA. She was permitted to stay in a hotel that night rather than driving home. On her way to the hotel in Munising, Smith turned left on US-41 in front of the plaintiffs’ oncoming car.
In February 2012, Chris Penzak was crossing Parent Street in Royal Oak to her car after leaving an appointment. She tripped and fell when her toe hit a one-half inch rise in the road. Penzak suffered injuries to her pelvis, rib, and knees. She had been attending appointments in the same building twice a week for several years, but she had never had issues crossing the road or noticed the defect in the road. Pensak sued the City of Royal Oak.The city moved for summary disposition based on governmental immunity. Following a hearing, the trial court granted the defendant’s motion, holding that the plaintiff failed to raise a genuine issue of fact that the highway exception to governmental immunity applied to this case. On appeal, the plaintiff argued that the trial court erred when it granted summary disposition to the defendant. The appellate court upheld the grant of summary judgment, but for slightly different reasons than the trial court.
Two recent published opinions by the Michigan Court of Appeals reaffirm the right of medical providers to bring their no-fault benefits claims to court, even when the patient settles or becomes non-cooperative.Covenant Medical Center, Inc. v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company ensures that no-fault benefits claims aren’t resolved without medical providers’ approval by an injured party’s settlement.