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VHS of Mich, Inc. v Farm Bureau Mut Ins (COA – UNP 11/27/2018; RB #3816)


Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket #341176; unpublished
Judges O’Brien, Tukel, and Letica per Curiam
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: Not Applicable; Link to Opinion


Medical Provider Standing (Post-Covenant)

In this unanimous unpublished per curiam opinion, the Court of Appeals upheld the trial court’s order granting summary disposition for Defendant Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co. (“Farm Bureau”) regarding the failure of Plaintiff VHS of Michigan (“VHS”) to obtain a valid assignment of benefits. The Court of Appeals upheld summary disposition for Farm Bureau because the assignment instrument was not specific enough to create a valid assignment to VHS.  

VHS provided medical services to Tiana Bailey (“Bailey”). Bailey signed two forms entitled “OUTPATIENT GENEERAL CONSENT FORM” and “DMC GENERAL CONSENT FOR ADMISSION AND TREATMENT.” The “OUTPATIENT” form included a provision providing “I authorize payment of my insurance benefits to be made directly to the doctor. I agree to pay in full any and all charges not covered by insurance or other benefits. I understand that providers may bill separately.” The “DMC” form included a provision providing “I assign and authorize payment to be made directly to the hospital and/or providers of all healthcare benefits otherwise payable to me, but not exceeding the charges for this period of hospitalization.”

The Court of Appeals found that neither of the two documents established a sufficient assignment to provide VHS with proper standing to bring forward its action. The Court cited to Burkhardt v Bailey, 260 Mich App  654; 680 NW2d 453 (2004), which explained that an assignment can be a poorly written instrument so long as it demonstrates the assignor’s intent to present transfer “the thing” to the assignee. Here, the Court explained that the provision did not clearly manifest Bailey’s intent to assign VHS her right to pursue benefits. The Court did not provide any justification for this conclusion.

“Neither of these provisions constitute a sufficient assignment for the purpose of establishing plaintiff’s standing in this case. These provisions authorize the direct payment of benefits to plaintiff as contemplated by MCL 500.3112, see Covenant, 500 Mich at 208-209, but do not clearly manifest Bailey’s intent to assign to plaintiff her right to pursue benefits by way of litigation. See Burkhardt, 260 Mich App at 654-655.”

The Court therefore upheld summary disposition for Defendant.

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