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Newman v Seibold (COA – UNP 1/22/2019; RB #3839)

Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket # 340733; Unpublished
Judges Boonstra, Sawyer, and Tukel; per Curiam
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: Not Applicable; Link to Opinion.

General Ability / Normal Life Element of Serious Impairment (McCormick Era: 2010 –present) [§3135(7)]

Not applicable


In this unanimous unpublished per curiam opinion, the Court of Appeals affirmed summary disposition for Defendant Michael Seibold (“Seibold”) regarding Plaintiff Thomas Newman’s (“Newman”) ability to live his normal life under MCL 500.3135(5). The Court reasoned that Newman’s life was unaffected by the accident because before the accident Newman lived a severely limited and sedentary lifestyle.

Newman was involved in an automobile accident when Seibold disregarded a stop sign and hit his vehicle. Newman was taken to the hospital where his medical chart indicated that he had “abrasions to his left ear and hand and indicated that his neck was ‘supple.’” Newman returned to Sparrow Hospital over a period of several months and complained of neck and back pain. The various exams showed that Newman’s neck was “supple.” Newman also reported to McLaren Greater Lansing Emergency Department where his chart indicated “post-concussive syndrome” and “neck cervical strain.” Newman also visited CH Spine Center the medical assessment showed “neck pain, whiplash injury, facet syndrome, and myofascial pain syndrome.” Finally, Newman visited Dr. Robert Boykin, a chiropractor, whose clinical impression for Newman was “unresolved cervical/lumbar sprain strain injuries stemming from [motor vehicle accident].” Dr. Boykin signed a disability certificate for Newman explaining that Newman was disabled from his injuries sustained in the Seibold vehicle accident.

Newman was diagnosed with diabetes prior to the accident. Moreover, there was significant evidence that Newman lived a sedentary lifestyle due to his diabetes before the accident. The medical history and disability forms for Newman indicated that he was severely limited prior to the Seibold accident. Finally, Newman also had a preexisting degenerative spine disease that also effected his neck and back.

The Court of Appeals found that Newman did not demonstrate how his ability to lead his normal life was affected after his motor vehicle accident. In so holding the Court explained:

“In this case, plaintiff was disabled prior to the 2014 accident due to severe diabetes. In reviewing his 2010 Social Security Disability application form and prior medical records, it is clear that plaintiff already led a severely limited lifestyle long before the accident. In the 2010 application, plaintiff reported that he could only take a few steps before needing to rest, could not lift more than 5-10 pounds, could not sit or stand for more than a half-hour, and could no longer work on cars or drive long distances. He also could not perform any household chores other than taking out the trash. Plaintiff also reported needing assistance with bathing and dressing. A 2013 medical chart indicates that plaintiff was “severely limited by his body habitus, [and] can climb up stairs only by using hands and basically crawling up the stairs.” When comparing plaintiff’s descriptions at his deposition of how his life had been altered by the 2014 accident to his 2010 Social Security Disability application form, they are remarkably similar.”

The Court therefore upheld the trial court’s grant of summary disposition for Seibold.

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