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Kase v State Farm Insurance Company; (COA-UNP, 4/15/2003, RB #2372)

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Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket #237317; Unpublished
Judges Jansen, Kelly and Fort Hood; unanimous; per curiam
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: Not Applicable, Link to Opinion courthouse graphic


STATUTORY INDEXING:
Not applicable

TOPICAL INDEXING:
Collateral Estoppel and Res Judicata


CASE SUMMARY:
In this unanimous unpublished per curiam opinion, the Court of Appeals held that the doctrine of collateral estoppel prevented plaintiff from suing defendant State Farm for no fault PIP benefits where plaintiff had previously lost a jury trial in a third-party tort liability claim against State Farm’s insured in which plaintiff sought damages for serious impairment of body function, but where the jury entered a no cause of action against plaintiff for the reason that plaintiff had not sustained any injury. The court ruled that the jury’s finding that plaintiff had not sustained an injury in the third-party suit, prevented the plaintiff from subsequently suing defendant State Farm for no-fault PIP benefits, because State Farm was in “privity of contract” with the defendant tortfeasor in the third-party case, inasmuch as State Farm was the indemnitor (insurer) of that defendant and would have been bound by any judgment entered in the third-party action. In addition, the issue of whether plaintiff sustained an injury was “fully and fairly litigated in the third-party action,” wherein the jury answered the question in the negative. Therefore, “The trial court correctly found that the doctrine of collateral estoppel precluded the relitigation of this issue in the instant case, and properly granted defendant’s motion for summary disposition






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STATUTORY INDEXING:

Not applicable

 

TOPICAL INDEXING:

Collateral Estoppel and Res Judicata

 


In this unanimous unpublished per curiam opinion, the Court of Appeals held that the doctrine of collateral estoppel prevented plaintiff from suing defendant State Farm for no‑fault PIP benefits where plaintiff had previously lost a jury trial in a third-party tort liability claim against State Farm’s insured in which plaintiff sought damages for serious impairment of body function, but where the jury entered a no cause of action against plaintiff for the reason that plaintiff had not sustained any injury.  The court ruled that the jury’s finding that plaintiff had not sustained an injury in the third-party suit, prevented the plaintiff from subsequently suing defendant State Farm for no-fault PIP benefits, because State Farm was in “privity of contract” with the defendant tortfeasor in the third-party case, inasmuch as State Farm was the indemnitor (insurer) of that defendant and would have been bound by any judgment entered in the third-party action.  In addition, the issue of whether plaintiff sustained an injury was “fully and fairly litigated in the third-party action,” wherein the jury answered the question in the negative.  Therefore, “The trial court correctly found that the doctrine of collateral estoppel precluded the relitigation of this issue in the instant case, and properly granted defendant’s motion for summary disposition”

 

 

2373.      Burke, et al v Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association and Auto Club Group Insurance Company, et al v Michigan Educational Employees Mutual Insurance Company; Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket No. 227123; April 15, 2003; Judges Griffin, Gage and Meter; MTLA File No. OP-1668-3.

 

STATUTORY INDEXING:

MCL 500.3104

Reimbursement of Member Claims

 

TOPICAL INDEXING:

Not applicable

 


In this unanimous unpublished per curiam opinion, the Court of Appeals held that the Michigan Insurance Commissioner had “primary jurisdiction” in this circuit court lawsuit against the Catastrophic Claims Association alleging that the Association and its member companies breached fiduciary duties to policyholders by issuing a refund in the amount of $180 per vehicle from a surplus remitted by the Association to the member insurance companies.  The plaintiffs argued that the amount of the refund was disproportionate because it did not take into account the pro rata contribution of each policyholder to the surplus that was being remitted.  The circuit court lawsuit alleged a class action.  The circuit court ruled that the Insurance Commissioner should have primary jurisdiction over this case, because it “would focus the parties’ arguments on the correct nature of the refunds and the legal and factual reasoning behind the manner in which the refunds were rewarded.  A judicial determination at this point, without deferring to the primary jurisdiction of the Commissioner, would allow the circuit court to decide the matter without the benefit of the Commissioner’s review of the facts and law in this case.  The court would have to proceed without the benefit of the Commissioner’s analysis of how a ruling adverse to defendants in the instant case would affect the statutory operations of the MCCA and the ultimate return of future surplus assessments to policyholders.  Thus, this case does not involve basic issues that courts address on a regular basis and that are within the conventional experiences of judges.  We are convinced that the Commissioner is best equipped to review the particular facts and laws at issue in this case and to best anticipate the effect of a ruling adverse to defendants. . . .  Accordingly, we conclude that the Commissioner had primary jurisdiction over this case.”

 

 

2374.      Wertheimer v Walker, et al; Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket No. 238686; April 15, 2003; Judges Jansen, Kelly and Fort Hood; MTLA File No. OP-1671-2.

 

STATUTORY INDEXING:

MCL 500.3135

Noneconomic Loss Liability for Serious Impairment of Body Function Threshold (Definition) [3135(1)]

Objective Manifestation Element of Serious Impairment [3135(7)]

Important Body Function Element of Serious Impairment [3135(7)]

General Ability / Normal Life Element of Serious Impairment [3135(7)]

 

TOPICAL INDEXING:

Not applicable

 

In this unanimous unpublished per curiam opinion decided without oral argument, the Court of Appeals reversed summary disposition in favor of defendant on plaintiff's claim of serious impairment of body function.  Plaintiff's injuries consisted primarily of soft tissue cervical injuries that the court described as follows: “The evidence showed that plaintiff had muscle spasms, which are objective manifestations of injury. . . . In addition, x-rays showed disc space narrowing at C4-C5 and C5-C6 and an MRI showed disc bulges at C4-C5 and C5-C6.  These are also objective manifestations of injury. . . . Although plaintiff's x-rays showed the same condition before the accident, her doctors stated that the conditions were related to the accident, thus creating a question of fact.  The injuries affected plaintiff's ability to move her neck and shoulder, which are important body functions.  The injury was not extensive and required no treatment other than medication and physical therapy.  According to one doctor, plaintiff's physical condition was completely normal by February 2001, so the only residual impairment is unexplained pain.  However, plaintiff was disabled from working for ten months and had difficulty doing housework and yard work.  Such evidence was sufficient to create a question of fact whether plaintiff's injuries were serious.”

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