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McClinton v Christopher Hartwell, et al (COA – UNP; 3/18/2021; RB #4240)

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Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket # 352687; Unpublished
Judges Murray, Kelly and Rick; per curiam
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: Not Applicable; Link to Opinion


STATUTORY INDEXING:
Serious Impairment of Body Function Definition (McCormick Era: 2010 – present) [§3135(5)]

TOPICAL INDEXING:
Not Applicable


SUMMARY:
In this unanimous unpublished per curiam opinion, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s grant of summary disposition in favor of defendant on the issue of whether plaintiff failed to demonstrate the existence of a “serious impairment of body function” necessary to meet the no-fault tort threshold. In doing so, the Court found that plaintiff failed to establish a physical basis for her complaints of shoulder and back pain.

This case arose from a motor vehicle accident in which plaintiff was stopped at a red light when defendant struck the rear end of her vehicle. Following the accident, plaintiff drove herself to a hospital, where she received treatment for pain in her neck and shoulder. While at the hospital, plaintiff received an MRI that revealed damage to her spine. However, when plaintiff’s doctor compared the results of this MRI to one plaintiff had received in 2015, he found that plaintiff had a pathology in each, that the differences between the two were minimal, and that he could not determine whether the accident had caused plaintiff’s spinal condition to worsen. The record also reflected that plaintiff needed assistance from her sister for daily tasks for the first six months after the accident, and that plaintiff had an extensive medical history that included back injuries suffered in a different car accident years prior. Plaintiff had also been on social security disability since 1979. Defendant sought summary disposition, contending that Plaintiff failed to demonstrate the existence of a “serious impairment of body function” to meet the no-fault tort threshold. The trial court granted defendant’s motion.

On appeal, the Court noted t that, per McCormick v Carrier, 487 Mich 180” 795 NW2d 517 (2010), “to establish objective manifestation, a plaintiff ‘must introduce evidence establishing that there is a physical basis for their subjective complaints of pain and suffering . . . .” Applying these principles, the Court found that “[t]he only evidence of an objective medical diagnosis that linked the motor vehicle accident with these subjective problems were the differences between her two MRI’s; however, even her own doctor could not conclude that the accident caused the ‘minimal’ progression . . . .” The Court found that plaintiff’s failure to produce such medical evidence connecting her impairments to the accident was “especially significant in light or her extensive medical history.” Additionally, while plaintiff argued that the depression she suffered as a result of the accident constituted an objectively manifested impairment, the Court found that the plaintiff had not provided “any evidence of how her depression has objectively manifested,” but rather only provided her testimony that she had depression since the collision and was described an antidepressant, which was insufficient to satisfy McCormick.

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