Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket No. 161063; Unpublished
Judges Marilyn Kelly, Shepherd, and Borrello; Unanimous; Per Curiam
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: Not Applicable; Link to Opinion
Entitlement to PIP Benefits: Arising Out of / Causation Requirement [§3105(1)]
Exclusion for Vehicles Considered Parked [§3106(1)]
Exception for Loading / Unloading [§3106(1)(b)]
Exception for Entering Into or Alighting From [§3106(1)(c)]
In this unpublished per curiam Opinion, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's denial of plaintiffs motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict and plaintiffs motion for a new trial in a case involving no-fault first-party coverage.
Plaintiff, who had a history of back problems, claimed to have sustained a herniated disk in his back while entering his automobile. The injury allegedly occurred shortly after plaintiff had moved a number of 80-pound bags of salt into a church basement. The defendant insurance company denied plaintiffs claim for no-fault first-party coverage, contending that the injury did not occur as a result of an accident involving a motor vehicle, or, in the alternative, that injury did not occur while plaintiff was entering into his vehicle, and instead, the injury was sustained at some other time, such as when plaintiff was carrying the bags of salt into the church basement.
The court permitted expert testimony from both sides as to when the injury to plaintiffs back could have occurred. The Court of Appeals found no abuse of discretion in the trial court's decision to permit the testimony in this regard, as MRE 704 permits expert testimony on an ultimate issue in the case. The jury returned a verdict against plaintiff.
The Court of Appeals also found that the trial court applied an erroneous standard in ruling on plaintiffs motion for a new trial. Specifically, the trial court had considered whether there was sufficient evidence to permit the case to go to the jury, rather than the proper standard of whether the verdict was against the great weight of the evidence. Nonetheless, the Court of Appeals held that the trial court reached the correct result, even though for the wrong reason, finding that competent evidence supported the jury's determination that plaintiff injured his back at some other time other than when he entered the vehicle, and accordingly, affirmed the trial court's denial of plaintiff s motion for a new trial.