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LaPointe v Rojo, et al (COA – UNP 12/29/2022; RB #4522)   


Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket #359431; Unpublished
Judges Kelly, Murray, and Riordan; Per Curiam
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: Not Applicable; Link to Opinion

Entitlement to PIP Benefits: Arising Out of / Causation Requirement [§3105(1)]

Not Applicable

In this unanimous, unpublished, per curiam decision, the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s denial of Defendant MemberSelect Insurance Company’s (“MemberSelect”) motion for summary disposition, in which it sought dismissal of Plaintiff Reba LaPointe’s action for no-fault PIP benefits against it. LaPointe was entitled to claim no-fault benefits from MemberSelect for the post-concussive syndrome she developed as a result of a 2019 motor vehicle accident, but the Court held that, under McPherson v McPherson, 493 Mich 294 (2013), LaPointe was not entitled to no-fault PIP benefits for the fractured ankle she sustained as a result from a fall that was caused by her post-concussive syndrome.

In May of 2019, Reba LaPointe was injured in a motor vehicle accident, after which she began suffering from dizziness and vertigo, which her doctors diagnosed as accident-related post-concussion syndrome. In November of 2019, LaPointe was walking on her front porch when she began experiencing a dizzy spell, which caused her to fall down and fracture her ankle. She sought no-fault PIP benefits from her no-fault insurer, MemberSelect, related to the treatment she received for her fractured ankle, but MemberSelect refused to pay any benefits related to that injury, specifically, and moved for summary disposition in LaPointe’s subsequent first-party action against it, arguing that, under McPherson, LaPointe’s fractured ankle could not be said to have arisen out of the motor vehicle accident. The trial court disagreed, denying MemberSelect’s motion.

The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s summary disposition order, holding that, under McPherson, the connection between LaPointe’s fractured ankle and the accident was too attenuated to be considered more than “incidental, fortuitous, or but for.” The Court reasoned that, although the motor vehicle accident caused the symptoms and the symptoms caused the fall, the fall, and not the motor vehicle accident, was the cause of the fractured ankle.

“In both McPherson and this case, a second incident caused the relevant injury. Here, plaintiff did not injure her ankle in the motor vehicle accident; she suffered head trauma that arguably led to dizziness and vertigo, which then arguably led to a second incident (plaintiff falling off her porch), which in turn caused her ankle injury. Under McPherson, there is not a sufficient connection between the ankle injury and the motor vehicle accident.”

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