Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket #333275; Unpublished
Judges Murphy, O’Connell, and Kelly; 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In this unanimous unpublished per curiam opinion, the Court of Appeals vacated the circuit court’s order and remanded the case for further hearing because Plaintiff Bronson Methodist Hospital (“Bronson”) lacked standing in the case. The Court found that after the Michigan Supreme Court’s ruling in Covenant Med Ctr, Inc v State Farm Mut Auto Ins Co, 500 Mich 191; 895 NW2d 490 (2017) medical providers lacked independent statutory causes of action against no-fault insurers and because of this Bronson lacked standing to bring any action against Defendant Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company (“Farm Bureau”).
Bronson provided medical care to Jeremiaha Parker and Eric DeRyke, both of whom had been injured in separate motor vehicle accident and had no-fault coverage from Farm Bureau. There was a dispute about payment and Bronson brought an action to compel payment from Farm Bureau. The two cases were tried together before a jury and a directed verdict was granted for Bronson. Bronson then filed a motion for no-fault attorney fees and was awarded attorney fees. Farm Bureau appealed and while on appeal the Michigan Supreme Court decided Covenant. The Court of Appeals subsequently decided that Covenant applied to cases on appeal.
The Court of Appeals reasoned that the cases must be remanded because Bronson lacked standing in both cases. The Court explained that pursuant to Covenant Bronson lacked standing as a medical provider bringing an issue as an independent statutory claim. Moreover, the Court explained that when a party lacks standing, it is like the case never occurred at all. Therefore, there was no issue before the Court. The Court explained that it does not issue advisory opinions and because there was no issue before it, it had to vacate the orders of the circuit court and remand the case to see if Bronson could establish standing.
“The fact remains that under Covenant and its progeny, Bronson did not have a statutory right to bring these actions in the first place. “[A] determination that a plaintiff lacks statutory standing to assert a cause of action is essentially the equivalent of concluding that a plaintiff cannot bring any action in reaction to an alleged legal violation.” Miller v Allstate Ins Co, 481 Mich 601, 609; 751 NW2d 463 (2008). ‘The principle of statutory standing is jurisdictional; if a party lacks statutory standing, then the court generally lacks jurisdiction to entertain the proceeding or reach the merits.’ In re Beatrice Rottenberg Living Trust, 300 Mich App 339, 355; 833 NW2d 384 (2013), citing Miller, 481 Mich at 608–612; see also Maki Estate v Coen, 318 Mich App 532, 539 n 1; 899 NW2d 111 (2017) (“Statutory standing is a jurisdictional principle . . .”). This is similar or akin to subject-matter jurisdiction, and jurisdiction to hear and determine a case cannot be conferred by consent, waiver, or estoppel. In re AMB, 248 Mich App 144, 166; 640 NW2d 262 (2001)”
Thus, the Court vacated the orders and remanded the cases for further proceedings.