Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket No.193409; Unpublished
Judges Fitzgerald, Markey, and Sullivan; Unanimous; Per Curiam
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: Not Applicable; Link to Opinion
Entitlement to PIP Benefits: Arising Out of / Causation Requirement [§3105(1)]
Evidentiary Issues [§3135]
Trial Procedure Issues [§3135]
This unanimous unpublished per curiam Opinion affirms jury verdicts rendered in favor of the defendant tortfeasor and the defendant PIP insurer in a consolidated trial. In the tort action, plaintiff claimed defendant tortfeasor was negligent for rear-ending the plaintiff. However, plaintiff never requested a jury instruction on the statutory presumption of negligence arising from violation of the statute. By not requesting the presumption, plaintiff conceded that the issue was a jury question. The Court of Appeals refused to overrule the trial court's denial of plaintiff’s motion for new trial or JNOV, ruling that "the finding of no negligence indicates that they [the jury] determined that the defendant driver did what a reasonable person would have done under all of the circumstances. The court's finding that the verdict was not against the great weight of the evidence is entitled to substantial deference by this court. Having considered the evidence presented at trial, we conclude that the court's denial of the motion was not an abuse of discretion."
The Court of Appeals likewise refused to disturb the jury's verdict against plaintiff on his claim for no-fault PIP benefits. The jury found that plaintiff’s alleged neck, back and shoulder injuries did not arise out of the subject accident. Defendant paid plaintiff’s medical bills for the first six months, but none thereafter. The jury could properly have based its decision on medical testimony that any ongoing physical problems experienced by plaintiff were related to his pre-existing arthritic condition and not to automobile accident trauma.
Finally, the Court of Appeals ruled that plaintiff had waived any objection to improper joinder of the tort case and PIP case. It was defendant, not plaintiff, who brought a motion to sever the two cases and plaintiff did not preserve this issue for appeal.