Injured? Contact Sinas Dramis for a free consultation.


Shields v State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company; (COA-PUB, 12/6/2002, RB #2349)


Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket #237533; Published
Judges Hood, Bandstra and O’Connell; unanimous; per curiam
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: 254 Mich. App. 367, Link to Opinion courthouse graphic

Entitlement to PIP Benefits: Arising Out of / Causation Requirement [3105(1)]
Allowable Expenses for Conservatorships and Guardianships [3107(1)(a)]

Not applicable

In this unanimous published per curiam opinion, the Court of Appeals held State Farm was not obligated to pay attorney fees incurred in the filing of the first annual accounting for a conservatorship which was set up to manage the funds received by a minor child as a settlement of her claim for non-economic damages.

Plaintiff Elizabeth Shields was an infant who suffered injuries in an automobile-related accident. State Farm paid for her medical expenses and other PIP benefits. A claim against the driver of the vehicle that struck Elizabeth was also settled, resulting in a payment of $30,000. As a result of this payment, a conservatorship was established to manage these funds. Plaintiff sought an Order requiring that State Farm pay the attorney fees in connection with the filing of the first annual account for the conservatorship, relying upon the holding in Heinz v Auto Club Insurance Association, 214 Mich App 195; 543 NW2d 4 (1995).

In distinguishing Heinz, the Court of Appeals herein noted that the services performed by a conservator or guardian can be allowable expenses under section 3107(1)(a) if a person “is so seriously injured in an automobile accident that it is necessary to appoint a guardian or conservator for that person.” Heinz, supra.

However, in the instant case, the conservator was not needed because of the injuries suffered by Elizabeth, but was needed only because Elizabeth was a minor, unable to oversee her own financial affairs. Thus, in contrast to the situation in Heinz, the conservatorship here and its related costs, did not “arise out of” the accident for which respondent was obligated to provide PIP benefits under section 3105(1). Therefore, the Court of Appeals reversed the probate court order finding defendant responsible for such attorney fees.

Michigan auto accident attorney 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

Copyright © 2024  Sinas Dramis Law Firm, George Sinas, Stephen Sinas.
All Rights Reserved.
Login (Publishers Only)