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White v Pasha and Empire Fire & Marine Insurance Company and Allstate Insurance Company and Frye and Cummings; (COA-UNP, 2/6/2007, RB #2849)

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Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket #272101; Unpublished
Judges Sawyer, Fitzgerald, and Donofrio; unanimous; per curiam
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: Not applicable, Link to Opinion courthouse image


STATUTORY INDEXING:
Exception for Employer Provided Vehicles [3114(3)]

TOPICAL INDEXING:
Not applicable


CASE SUMMARY:
In this unanimous unpublished per curiam opinion, decided without oral argument, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s decision that defendant Empire was first in priority for plaintiff’s no-fault benefits, because plaintiff was injured while in the course of his employment for defendant’s insured.

The plaintiff in this case was injured while driving a vehicle furnished by his employer, Gray’s Transportation. The defendant appealed, arguing the trial court erred when it concluded plaintiff was an employee of Gray’s Transportation. Instead, the defendant argued that plaintiff was entitled to no-fault benefits under a policy his parents had with Allstate Insurance. The Court of Appeals disagreed, finding that under the economic reality test, the trial court properly found plaintiff was an employee of defendant’s insured at the time of the accident, because it exercised extensive control over the plaintiff’s duties. In so finding, the court noted that the employer provided plaintiff with a list of patients to be picked up and transported; the list indicated the order in which the clients would be chauffeured; the employer assigned plaintiff the vehicle in which to use and paid for the fuel; the employer paid plaintiff’s wages based upon the number of clients he transported; and the employer retained the right to hire and fire its drivers. In this regard, the court stated:

The economic reality test is used to determine whether an individual’s status is that of an independent contractor or employee for purposes of MCL 500.3114(3). . . .  ‘[F]actors to be considered include:  (a) control of the worker’s duties, (b) payment of wages, (c) right to hire, fire and discipline, and (d) the performance of the duties as an integral part of the employer’s business towards the accomplishments of a common goal.’ Gray’s Transportation exercised extensive control over plaintiff’s duties. On a daily basis, it provided plaintiff with a list of patients to be picked up and transported to medical appointments. The list indicated the order in which the clients were to be chauffeured and the times of their appointments. Gray’s Transportation assigned plaintiff a particular van to use and paid for the fuel. At the end of his shift, plaintiff parked the van in an assigned area and left the keys in the vehicle. Gray’s Transportation paid plaintiff’s wages, which were determined by the number of patients he transported. There is no indication that Gray’s Transportation issued either a W-2 form or a 1099 form for tax purposes. Gray’s Transportation retained the right to hire and fire its drivers, although there was no ‘formal hiring and firing process.’. . .  The economic reality test supports the trial court’s determination that plaintiff was Gray’s Transportation’s employee.”


Lansing car accident lawyer 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 SinasDramis.com.

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