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Specht v Citizens Insurance Co of America; (COA-PUB, 2/26/1999; RB #2044)


Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket No. 204280; Published   
Judges Hood, Neff, and Markey; Unanimous; Per Curiam   
Official Michigan Reporter Citation:  234 Mich App 292; Link to Opinion alt   

Standards for Deductibility of State and Federal Governmental Benefits [§3109(1)]   
State Workers Compensation Benefits [§3109(1)]

Workers Disability Compensation Act (MCL 418.1, et seq.)     

In this unanimous per curiam published Opinion, the Court of Appeals affirmed a jury verdict in plaintiff’s favor for past no-fault benefits and rejected Citizens' argument that the trial court should have granted Citizens' motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction, due to the fact that plaintiff, who was injured in an accident during the course of her employment, had a pending workers' compensation claim.

Citizens argued on appeal that the pendency of the claim before the Workers' Compensation Bureau deprived the trial court of jurisdiction to decide whether plaintiff’s injuries arose out of the work-related automobile accident.

The Court of Appeals held that a determination of whether the accident occurred during the course of plaintiff’s employment [thus providing for a set off of workers' compensation benefits from Citizens' obligation to pay no-fault benefits pursuant to section 3109(1)], was both unnecessary and irrelevant to the question of plaintiff’s entitlement to no-fault benefits. There was also no need to examine or interpret the terms of plaintiff s employer's workers' compensation policy. Rather, Citizens' liability for no-fault benefits depended only on whether plaintiff was injured during the course of an accident covered by the no-fault policy which she purchased from Citizens. Therefore, the issue concerning whether Citizens was liable to plaintiff for no-fault benefits was clearly an issue over which circuit courts have jurisdiction. Plaintiff’s employment relationship was, at best, only tangentially involved. The trial court therefore correctly refused to dismiss plaintiff’s action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

The Court of Appeals also noted that the no-fault carrier is entitled to "intervene" and actively participate in the workers' compensation proceeding in order to protect its reimbursement interest.

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