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Mich. Radiology Institute, PLLC v. Farmers Ins. Exch. (COA - UNP 12/22/2020; RB #4202)

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Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket # 351775; Unpublished
Judges Swartzle, Beckering, and Gleicher; per curiam
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: Not Applicable; Link to Opinion


STATUTORY INDEXING:
One-Year Notice Rule Limitation [§3145(1)]

TOPICAL INDEXING:
Michigan Auto Insurance Placement Facility (MAIPF – MCL 500.3301, Et Seq.)


SUMMARY:
In this unanimous unpublished per curiam opinion, the Court of Appeals reversed the holding of the trial court granting summary disposition to the Defendant on the issue of whether Plaintiff’s complaint failed to satisfy pleading requirements because the absence of the date of the accident in the complaint still sufficiently put Defendant on notice of the nature of the claim and did not deprive Defendant of its ability to amend its answer to include further affirmative defenses following discovery.

This case arose from an automobile accident in which Dennis Kimball was injured and received treatment for his injuries from Plaintiff. After Dennis Kimball assigned Plaintiff his right to PIP benefits in relation to the services Plaintiff had provided, Plaintiff brought suit initially against the Michigan Automobile Insurance Placement Facility (MAIPF) but eventually substituted for Defendant. Defendant moved for summary disposition because Plaintiff’s amended complaint “failed to satisfy pleading requirements because it did not include the date of Kimball’s accident.” Defendant argued that it was unable to plead certain affirmative defenses without the date of the accident. The trial court held for Defendant and Plaintiff appealed.

On appeal, the Court considered Plaintiff’s argument that the trial court erred by granting summary disposition to the Defendant by first looking to Defendants motion for summary disposition. In doing so, the Court noted that the Defendant moved for summary disposition pursuant to MCR 2.116(C)(8) and (10) (no genuine issue of material fact), and that the trial court had granted Defendant’s motion pursuant to MCR 2.116(C)(8). The court noted that “[a] motion under MCR 2.116(C)(8) tests the legal sufficiency of a claim based on the factual allegations in the complaint” and that “[a] motion under MCR 2.116(C)(8) may only be granted when a claim is so clearly unenforceable that no factual development could possibly justify recovery.”

In applying these principles, the Court found that Plaintiff’s failure to include the date of Dennis Kimball’s accident while constituting “poor draftsmanship” still “sufficiently put [Defendant] on notice of the nature of the claim against it.” In so holding, the Court held that it was clear that plaintiff was seeking to recover PIP benefits under the no-fault act based on Plaintiff’s multiple references to the no-faut act, Dennis Kimball, and the injuries arising from the accident. Further, the Court held that Plaintiff’s failure to include the date of the accident did not deprive the Defendant of notice of the “nature of the claim . . . sufficient to permit [Defendant] to take a responsive position.” Specifically, the Court found Defendant’s argument that the lack of the accident date precluded it from asserting the notice requirements in 500.3145 and MCL 500.3174 unpersuasive given the fact that MAIPF, who previously answered the complaint in this case, asserted MCL 500.3145. Further, the Court noted that “a party is readily permitted to amend their answer to add additional affirmative defenses that become relevant” and Defendant gave no reason that it was unable to “simply amend its affirmative defenses once the date of the accident is revealed during discovery.” Finally, the Court stated that “even if plaintiff’s amended complaint was insufficient on this basis, the trial court should have given plaintiff the opportunity to amend its complaint.” Thus, the Court reversed the holding of the trial court.

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