Lewis v. City of Detroit (COA – UNP 2/21/2019; RB #3851)


Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket # 341538; Unpublished
Judges Beckering, Jansen, and O’Brien; per curiam
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: Not Applicable; Link to Opinion

§500.3116 General/Miscellaneous

Intervention by Service Providers and Third Party Payors in PIP Claims

In this majority unpublished per curiam decision, the Court of Appeals vacated the trial court’s judgement against defendant City of Detroit as to the claim for PIP benefits asserted by plaintiff Metro Pain Clinic (“Metro”), because Metro had no direct action against the City of Detroit, per Covenant.

This case arises out of accident related injuries suffered by plaintiffs Ricky Lewis and Damon Williams. Following the accident, Lewis and Williams asserted claims for no-fault benefits against the City of Detroit. Their claim included unspecified amounts owed for unspecified PIP benefits, as well as amounts owed for treatment Lewis and Williams received from Metro. Eventually plaintiffs Lewis and Williams, as well as plaintiff Metro, brought separate actions against the City of Detroit for payment of benefits

All plaintiffs reached settlement amounts, pending city council approval. Lewis and Williams were paid in full, and their case was dismissed upon stipulation, despite the fact that Metro asserted two liens over their settlement proceeds. Metro argued that the settlement distribution to Lewis and Williams violated the Notice of Lien, and sought a judgement in the amount of its lien, which the trial court ultimately granted.

The Court of Appeals vacated the trial court’s judgement, because Covenant disallowed Metro from asserting an independent claim for PIP benefits against the City of Detroit

After Covenant, this Court held that Covenant is retroactive. W A Foote Mem Hosp, 321 Mich App at 196.6 Thus, despite the trial court’s confusing ruling, this case is simple: Metro Pain Clinic sought PIP benefits from defendant, but based on Covenant, Metro Pain Clinic had no independent claim for PIP benefits from defendant. And based on W A Foote, Covenant is retroactive, so it applied to Metro Pain Clinic’s complaint. So, in sum, Metro Pain Clinic did not have an independent cause of action against defendant for PIP benefits, and defendant was entitled to summary disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(8).

“The Covenant Issue,” according to the Court, “disposes of the entire case.” All of Metro’s arguments, therefore, were “based in equity,” and thus not relevant.

Justice Beckering, concurring, disagreed with Metro’s argument that it was entitled to an enforcement of its Notices of Liens in Lewis’ and Williams’ action, “just as medical healthcare insurers such as Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan do in personal injury claims.” Whereas insurers have a contractual right to assert such liens, however, “[Metro] has produced no evidence nor cited any legal authority entitling it to a lien in this instance.”