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Kole v Continental Insurance Company; (COA-UNP, 5/2/2000; RB #2140)

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Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket No. 210746; Unpublished  
Judges Holbrook, Jr., Smolenski, and Collins; Unanimous; Per Curiam   
Official Michigan Reporter Citation:  Not Applicable; Link to Opinion alt  


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

TOPICAL INDEXING:  
Collateral Estoppel and Res Judicata  
Underinsured Motorist Coverage: Coverage in General     


CASE SUMMARY:   
In this unanimous unpublished per curiam Opinion, the Court of Appeals held that a jury trial determination that plaintiff was not entitled to receive first-party no-fault benefits because he did not establish that his injuries "arose out of” the ownership, operation, maintenance or use of a motor vehicle as a motor vehicle, was not collateral estoppel or res judicata as to plaintiffs subsequent claim for underinsured motorist benefits.

As was noted by the Court of Appeals in this case, the appellate record did not contain many facts about the issues raised in the jury trial. Apparently, plaintiff was injured while sitting in a parked vehicle. After a jury trial, the jury made a determination of no cause of action in plaintiffs first-party no-fault suit, apparently on the basis that the plaintiffs injuries did not arise out of plaintiff s ownership, operation, maintenance or use of a motor vehicle as required by section 3105 of the No-Fault Act.

The trial court held that this decision by the jury upon plaintiffs no-fault benefits claim was not collateral estoppel or res judicata on plaintiffs claim for underinsured motorist benefits, because the issues applicable to underinsured motorist benefits claim were not decided by the jury in the previous first-party no-fault benefits case. According to the trial court, the most that could be said was that the jury's finding on the "arising out of" issue was "similar" to the proximate cause issue to be decided by the arbitrators in the underinsured motorist benefits case.

For res judicata to apply, it must be shown that (1) the former suit was decided on the merits, (2) the issues in the second action were or could have been resolved in the former action, and (3) both actions involved the same parties or their privies. Although the Court of Appeals agreed that the first and third requirements had been met, it held that the second requirement (identity of issues) had not been established. Further, the court held that collateral estoppel did not apply, for the reasons outlined by the trial court in its opinion.


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