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Hasan v Auto Club Insurance Association; (COA-UNP, 12/7/2001, RB #2251)


Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket #221815; Unpublished  
Judges Hoekstra, Saad and Whitbeck; unanimous; per curiam  
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: Not applicable, Link to Opinion

Entitlement to PIP Benefits: Arising Out of / Causation Requirement [3105(1)]

Not applicable

In this unanimous unpublished per curiam opinion, the Court of Appeals held that the requirement that plaintiff’s injuries arise out of the “maintenance” of a motor vehicle, pursuant to 3105(1) was not satisfied where plaintiff was injured while attempting to clean a gas tank that he had detached from the automobile and was cleaning in a laundry room in his house.

Plaintiff removed the gas tank from his automobile because the recently replaced fuel pump was not working properly. He believed that cleaning the gas tank might improve its performance. He emptied the contents of the tank and then took the gas tank into the first floor laundry room inside a house. He turned on the hot water in the laundry sink to clean the tank, and despite the presence of noticeable gas fumes, closed the door to the laundry room. The pilot light or burner of the water heater, also located in the laundry room, apparently caused the gas fumes to ignite and explode causing injuries.

In upholding the trial court grant of summary disposition in favor of Auto Club, the Court of Appeals held that the requirements of 3105(1) were not satisfied, in that the connection between the water heater and the maintenance of the vehicle was not sufficiently “close and direct” to impose liability. Though plaintiff turned on the hot water, it was the location of the hot water heater, not the maintenance of the vehicle, that caused the explosion. Further, the court held that the explosion did not arise “within the natural territorial limits of an automobile” as required by the causation test in Century Mutual Insurance Company v League General Insurance Company, 213 Mich App 114 (1995) [Item No. 1810]. Plaintiff removed the gas tank from the vehicle and brought it into a closed room inside a house. By transporting parts of the vehicle to a remote location, plaintiff destroyed the causal connection between the vehicle and the accident. The water heater itself was unrelated to plaintiff’s maintenance of the vehicle. The water heater became incidentally involved only because plaintiff brought the gas tank into the house, away from the vehicle, and into the room where the water heater was located.

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