Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket #264019; Unpublished
Judges Jansen, Sawyer, and Bandstra; unanimous; per curiam
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: Not applicable, Link to Opinion
In this unanimous unpublished per curiam opinion, the Court of Appeals affirmed a jury verdict for defendant, finding that the trial court properly admitted a video surveillance tape made after the plaintiff’s motor vehicle accident which depicted plaintiff engaging in various activities inconsistent with his claimed injuries. The court also affirmed the jury’s determination that although plaintiff was injured in the motor vehicle accident, he was no longer entitled to benefits two years later.
The plaintiff in this case was injured in a motor vehicle accident which occurred in 1998. In 2001, plaintiff sued to recover first-party benefits from defendant Citizens. Plaintiff appealed an adverse jury verdict, arguing the trial court improperly admitted a video tape because its probative value was outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice. The video, taken shortly after the accident, showed plaintiff walking and changing a tire. In affirming, the Court of Appeals noted that the video refuted plaintiff’s claim that his injuries affected his ability to care for himself and his dependents and was, therefore, relevant to the issue of whether plaintiff was entitled to PIP benefits. In this regard, the court stated:
“The tape shows plaintiff walking around his home on July 15, 1998, and changing a tire on his car on September 8, 1998. It tends to refute plaintiff’s trial testimony that he was in excruciating pain following the 1998 accident, which limited his activities and his ability to care for himself and his dependents. Thus, the video was relevant to the jury’s determination of whether plaintiff was disabled by the 1998 accident and whether he incurred recoverable expenses and required replacement services for his daily living as a result of injuries sustained in that accident.”
Plaintiff also argued that the jury’s determination that although he was injured in the motor vehicle accident, he was not entitled to PIP benefits, was inconsistent and, therefore, must be set aside. The Court of Appeals disagreed, finding that based upon the video tape and other evidence of plaintiff’s pre-existing injuries and medical conditions, the jury could reasonably conclude that the injuries the plaintiff sustained in the motor vehicle accident were minor or did not cause the damages plaintiff experienced two years later. In this regard, the court stated:
“Contrary to plaintiff’s assertion, the jury’s finding that plaintiff suffered an accidental bodily injury in 1998 is not logically inconsistent with the jury’s finding that plaintiff was not entitled to any personal injury protection benefits after June 22, 2000, as a result of injuries suffered in the 1998 accident. Based on the evidence presented at trial, including the videotape of plaintiff’s activities shortly after the accident and extensive testimony regarding plaintiff’s pre-existing injuries and medical conditions, the jury could reasonably conclude that the injuries plaintiff suffered during the 1998 accident were minor and/or did not cause the damages, if any, that plaintiff experienced after June 22, 2000.”