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Blair v Jones (COA – UNP 2/18/2021; RB #4207)


Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket # 350769; Unpublished  
Judges Murray, Jansen, and Stephens; Per curiam 
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: Not Applicable; Link to Opinion

Objective Manifestation Element of Serious Impairment (McCormick Era: 2010 – Present) [§3135(5)**]
Determining Serious Impairment of Body Function As a Matter of Law (McCormick Era: 2010 – present) [§3135(2)]

Not Applicable

In this unanimous unpublished per curiam opinion, the Court of Appeals affirmed summary disposition for the defendant on the issue of serious impairment of body function because the plaintiff failed to present sufficient evidence to establish that her injuries were objectively manifested under the test set forth in McCormick v Carrier, 487 Mich 180 (2010).  

Marquesha Blair was injured after her vehicle was rear-ended by a vehicle driven by Robert Lewis Jones.  Blair did not have any visible injuries at the time of the crash and did not seek immediate medical attention, however, she presented to the emergency room on three separate occasions thereafter complaining of headaches and pain on the left side of her body.  She underwent numerous tests and imaging studies, but no observable or identifiable injuries were discovered.  She later saw a neurologist who diagnosed her with “vertigo, double vision, blurred vision, closed-head injury, postconcussion syndrome, tinnitus, cervical radiculopathy, whiplash injury to the neck, and loss of balance” after she underwent a saccade test and received an abnormal score.  She then underwent three separate independent medical examination, with each examiner concluding that all her “medical issues were either resolved or not connected to the vehicle accident.” Blair then filed the instant lawsuit against Lewis Jones, but the trial court granted summary disposition in Lewis Jones’s favor, finding that Blair failed to show an objectively manifested impairment caused by the crash.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s holding, and rejected what it deemed to be the Plaintiff’s “sole substantive argument”: that the abnormal saccade test was an objective manifestation of her claimed impairments.  The Court held that, although Blair claimed that the abnormal saccade test was “consistent with [her] migraines,” she failed to provide any “medical records, affidavits, or other medical testimony linking the [saccade] test score and migraines.”  In other words, the disregarded Blair’s neurology records entirely and held that there was no “physical basis for her subjective complaints of headaches”:

Plaintiff’s medical records clearly document that plaintiff is in subjective pain.  But other than plaintiff’s subjective complaints of pain, plaintiff did not present any medical records or medical testimony to show that she has suffered an objectively manifested impairment as is required to recover noneconomic damages under the no-fault act.  All imaging such as MRI scans, CT scans, and X-rays, as well as physical exams, were recorded as normal or benign.  All other diagnoses appear to have been made from plaintiff’s subjective complaints of pain.  Plaintiff underwent three independent medical examinations, none of which indicated that plaintiff suffered an objectively manifested impairment caused by the accident at issue.  Where plaintiff fails to show any objectively manifested impairment evidenced by actual symptoms or conditions that someone other than she would observe or perceive as impairing a body function, McCormick, 487 Mich at 196, the trial court properly granted summary disposition in favor of defendant.

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