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Spies v Parker; (COA-UNP, 6/25/2002, RB #2311)


Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket #227581; Unpublished
Judges Fitzgerald, Bandstra and Kelly; unanimous; per curiam
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: Not Applicable, Link to Opinion courthouse graphic

Noneconomic Loss Liability for Serious Impairment of Body Function Threshold (Definition) [3135(1)]
Objective Manifestation Element of Serious Impairment [3135(7)]
General Ability / Normal Life Element of Serious Impairment [3135(7)]
Determining Serious Impairment of Body Function As a Matter of Law [3135(2)]
Causation Issues [3135]

Not applicable

In this unanimous unpublished per curiam opinion, the Court of Appeals affirmed a jury verdict of no cause for action on plaintiff’s noneconomic loss claim alleging serious impairment of body function. The jury found that defendant’s negligence proximately caused plaintiff’s injury but that plaintiff’s injuries did not meet the no-fault statutory threshold for recovery. The Court of Appeals refused to disturb the verdict and further concluded that the trial court had erred by failing to determine the question as a matter of law, given the fact that there was no material factual dispute as to the nature and extent of plaintiff’s injuries. In this regard, the court noted that plaintiff had sustained a fracture of his left forearm (ulna) which required two (2) surgeries to correct. Plaintiff testified that he was able to resume nearly all of his pre-injury activities within several weeks after the accident and that the doctors had placed no restrictions on his activities. The Court of Appeals agreed that plaintiff had suffered an objectively manifested impairment of an important body function, “namely use of his arm.” However, the court observed:

the injury prevented him from performing activities of his daily life for only a few weeks. Plaintiff suffers little residual impairment.... Further, he was provided a positive prognosis. We conclude that plaintiff’s injuries did not affect his general ability to live his normal life and, consequently, he did not suffer serious impairment of body function.”

The court also ruled that plaintiff’s seven-inch surgical scar on his arm did not constitute permanent, serious disfigurement as required by the statute. In this regard, the court noted, “Whether an injury amounts to a permanent serious disfigurement depends on its physical characteristics rather than its effect on the plaintiff’s ability to live a normal life.... We do not doubt that these scars are permanent, but they do not constitute serious disfigurements for purposes of the statute.”

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