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Dengler v State Farm; (COA-PUB, 5/18/1984; RB #756)


Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket No. 70375; Published  
Judges Gillis, T.M. Burns, and Kaufman; Unanimous; Per Curiam  
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: 135 Mich App 645; Link to Opinion alt   

Entitlement to PIP Benefits: Arising Out of / Causation Requirement [§3105(1)]

Not Applicable   

In this unanimous per curiam Opinion, the Court of Appeals denied no-fault benefits to plaintiff on the basis that plaintiff had introduced insufficient evidence to establish a causal connection between the automobile accident and plaintiff’s subsequent injury. Plaintiff in this case was involved in an automobile accident which caused damage to the vehicle but no immediate injuries to himself. One year later, he visited his family physician complaining of headaches which he blamed on the accident the year before. The family physician referred plaintiff to a neurologist who concluded that the headaches were not related to the accident but recommended that a CAT scan be performed. Before the CAT scan could be performed, plaintiff suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhage, as a result of which he is now totally disabled. Plaintiff alleged that the automobile accident caused a condition of hydrocephalus which in turn contributed to the subarachnoid hemorrhage. However, plaintiff did not introduce any evidence supporting the crucial link that the accident caused hydrocephalus and that hydrocephalus existed prior to the hemorrhage. One of plaintiff’s experts declined to express an opinion as to any causal relationship between the accident and hemorrhage and plaintiff’s other expert stated that any opinion on his part would be pure speculation and that there was only a "remote possibility" that hydrocephalus preexisted the hemorrhage. This expert went on to opine that there was "a much better possibility" that plaintiff’s hemorrhage was caused by work-related pressures.

In affirming the trial court's directed verdict, the Court of Appeals held "the fact that the evidence must be viewed in a light most favorable to plaintiff does not mean that damaging evidence must be ignored." The trial court properly granted the defendant's motion for directed verdict.

The court also went on to hold, in what appears to be dicta, that plaintiff would not have been able to "double dip" on his medical expenses had he established the sufficient causal connection to the extent that some of those medical benefits had been provided by the Veterans Administration. The court cited the decision in Bagley v State Farm (item number 356) and held that double dipping in that situation would have been prohibited by §3109(1) of the Act.

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