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Brown and St. John Hospital & Medical Center and Detroit Medical Center v State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company and Farm Bureau Insurance Company (COA-UNP, 01/13/2011, RB #3152)

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Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket #294581; Unpublished
Judges K. F. Kelly, Gleicher, and Stephens; unanimous; per curiam
Official Michigan Reporter Citation:  Not applicable, Link to Opinion 


STATUTORY INDEXING:        
Disqualification for Unlawful Taking and Use of a Vehicle [3113(a)]

TOPICAL INDEXING: 
Not applicable


CASE SUMMARY:   
In this unanimous unpublished per curiam opinion, the Court of Appeals held that the provisions of MCL 500.3113(a) did not exclude the plaintiff from receiving PIP benefits because, in this situation, there was no evidence that the plaintiff was involved in the unlawful taking of the vehicle that was involved in the accident.

William Ziegler was a passenger in a vehicle operated by his friend, Ean Thomas.  The vehicle became involved in a high-speed chase, loss of control, and a collision with a wall resulting in the death of Thomas and severe injuries to Ziegler.

An action was commenced on Ziegler’s behalf seeking against Farm Bureau, pursuant to assignment by the Assigned Claims Facility.  A subsequent discovery of insurance through State Farm on the owner of the stolen vehicle being operated by Thomas resulted in State Farm being brought into the action as the insurer in the highest order of priority.

Defendant State Farm argued that the trial court erred in not barring coverage for Ziegler under the provisions of MCL 500.3113(a) which state:

“A person is not entitled to be paid personal protection insurance benefits for accidental bodily injury if at the time of the accident any of the following circumstances existed:

(a)  The person was using a motor vehicle or motorcycle which he or she had taken unlawfully, unless the person reasonably believed that he or she was entitled to take and use the vehicle.”

In responding to State Farm’s argument that Ziegler knew that the vehicle was unlawfully taken, the Court of Appeals held that the provisions of 3113(a) did not bar coverage because there was no question of fact that Ziegler did not take or otherwise participate in stealing the vehicle.  Citing Henry Ford Health System v Esurance Ins Co, ___ Mich App ___ (2010), the court noted that coverage was available in that case, even though the injured person seeking coverage was a passenger in a vehicle that he knew had been stolen, but had not stolen it himself, nor had he been involved in stealing it.

Accordingly, the court affirmed summary disposition in favor of plaintiff.


Lansing car accident lawyer Stephen Sinas is the lead editor of the appellate case summaries published on this site regarding the Michigan auto insurance law. To learn more about how Stephen Sinas and how the Sinas Dramis Law Firm can help you if you have been injured in a Michigan auto accident, visit SinasDramis.com.

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