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Hubert LaFave v. Progressive Michigan Insurance Company (COA – UNP 11/24/2020; RB #4187)

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 Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket # 349227; Unpublished
Judges Markey, Meter, and Gadola; per curiam
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: Not Applicable; Link to Opinion


STATUTORY INDEXING:
“Arising out of” requirement [§3105(1)]

TOPICAL INDEXING:
Not Applicable


SUMMARY
In this unpublished per curiam opinion, the Court of Appeals affirmed the denial of summary disposition for Defendant on the issue of whether Plaintiff’s injury “arose out of the operation or use of a motor vehicle” because Plaintiff presented sufficient evidence to satisfy this requirement of the no-fault act.

The subject injury in this case occurred while Plaintiff was conducting debris clean up following a Florida hurricane. In doing so, Plaintiff and his son in law were collecting the debris with a logging truck and “transporting it elsewhere.” The logging truck had two permanently mounted hydraulic cylinders, called “outriggers,” that lowered to the ground during the debris-loading process to stabilize the truck. The Plaintiff’s injury occurred when his son in law began preparing to load a pile of debris onto the truck, triggering movement of the outriggers, one of which lowered onto Plaintiff’s foot, crushing it.  In light of this injury, Plaintiff filed a claim for PIP benefits through Defendant, his no-fault insurance provider.  Defendant moved for summary disposition, arguing that Plaintiff’s injuries did not satisfy the “arising out of” requirement in MCL 500.3105(1).

In reaching its holding, the Court first recognized that the incident in question involved a parked car and, therefore, required three steps to be satisfied. First, the plaintiff must show that his injury falls into one of the exceptions of MCL 500.3106, which states that bodily injury “does not arise out of . . . use of a parked vehicle . . .  unless the injury was a direct result of physical contact with equipment permanently mounted on the vehicle, while the equipment was being operated or used, or property being lifted onto or lowered from the vehicle in the loading or unloading process.” Second, the Plaintiff must show that his injury arose out of the ownership, maintenance, or use of the parked motor vehicle as a motor vehicle. Third, the Plaintiff must show that the injury has a causal connection to the parked motor vehicle.

In the instant case, the Court’s analysis focused on the second step, which hinges on whether the injury is closely related to the transportational function of the motor vehicle. Importantly, the Court noted that it was not required that the activity at issue “result from” the transportational function of the vehicle. Instead, the Court found that the question at this step was “whether the activity the Plaintiff was engaged in at the time of the injury was closely related to the vehicles transportational function.” Applying these principles, the Court concluded that Plaintiff presented sufficient evidence to satisfy the forgoing requirement due to the fact that the Plaintiff was engaged in the activity of transporting debris at the time of the accident. Specifically, the court held “[i]n this case, Plaintiff and his son-in-law, at the time of the injury, were participating in the activities of collecting, removing, and transporting hurricane related debris. Indeed, the whole endeavor was about ridding areas of debris and transporting the debris to other locations. Absent a transportational function, the debris would have remained in place. Accordingly, the trial court did not err by denying Progressive’s motion for summary disposition.”

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