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Landon v Titan Insurance Company; (COA-PUB, 6/14/2002, RB #2306)


Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket No. 230596; Published
Judges Jansen, Smolenski and Wilder; unanimous
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: 251 Mich. App. 633, Link to Opinion courthouse graphic

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


Not applicable
In this unanimous published opinion by Judge Smolenski, the Court of Appeals held that summary disposition was not proper under section 3113(a) regarding defendant’s contention that plaintiff was not entitled to no-fault benefits under section 3113(a) because plaintiff was using a vehicle she had taken unlawfully and without a reasonable belief that she was entitled to take and use the vehicle. In this case, the vehicle belonged to plaintiff’s friend who, with plaintiff’s knowledge, parked the vehicle on plaintiff’s property in order to display it for sale purposes. The owner also left the keys with the plaintiff. There was nothing ever specifically stated between plaintiff and the vehicle owner as to whether plaintiff could operate the vehicle. On the day in question, plaintiff used the vehicle to make a run to Taco Bell and was involved in the accident. Plaintiff’s claim for no-fault PIP benefits was assigned to defendant who denied them on the basis of section 3113(a). The court held that this was similar to a bailment situation, wherein plaintiff was in lawful possession of the vehicle on the day of the accident because it had been parked on plaintiff’s property. Therefore, the plaintiff had not unlawfully taken possession of the vehicle. Moreover, even if the use was “unlawful,” there was a fact question as to whether plaintiff reasonably believed she had permission to use the vehicle, thus making summary disposition inappropriate. Moreover, the court held that plaintiff was entitled to the common law presumption that she had the owner’s implied consent to use the vehicle under the circumstances present in this case. Based upon all of these issues, the court held that:

a genuine issue of material fact exists regarding whether plaintiff reasonably believed that she was entitled to use the vehicle. A rational jury could have found that plaintiff had a reasonable belief that [the owner of the vehicle] would not have minded plaintiff’s borrowing the car for a quick trip to a fast-food restaurant only a half mile up the road.”



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