Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket No. 162923; Unpublished
Judges Gribbs, Markman, and Shelton; Unanimous; Per Curiam
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: Not Applicable; Link to Opinion
Entitlement to PIP Benefits: Arising Out of / Causation Requirement [§3105(1)]
In this unanimous unpublished per curiam Opinion, the Court of Appeals denied no-fault PIP benefits to a woman who sustained a paralyzing gunshot wound while a passenger in a vehicle that was being driven in a reckless and erratic manner through a campground, apparently for the purpose of harassing campers. The vehicle in which plaintiff was riding, drove past a particular camp site several times, during which the occupants of the vehicle screamed and yelled at the campers. On one pass by the camp site, the vehicle almost collided with a vehicle parked at the camp site. One of the campers yelled at the automobile driver to leave them alone. Further words were exchanged and then the camper fired a single shot from his pistol, hitting and paralyzing plaintiff passenger.
In affirming the trial court's denial of no-fault benefits to the injured plaintiff, the court relied upon several decisions, including the Supreme Court's recent opinion in Bourne v Farmers Insurance Exchange [Item No. 1780], the Supreme Court's earlier opinion in Marzonie v Auto Club [Item No. 1S86], and an earlier Court of Appeals opinion in Mueller v Auto Club [Item No. 1691]. In this case, the court held that:
"Plaintiffs injuries did not arise out of the ownership, operation, maintenance or use of the motor vehicle as a motor vehicle." We acknowledge that Jacquelyn Walters' injury occurred while she happened to be in a motor vehicle. Furthermore [the driver's] erratic driving of the motor vehicle may have contributed to any provocation felt by [the camper]. Nevertheless, there was not a sufficient causal connection between plaintiffs injuries and the use of the motor vehicle as a motor vehicle. Any relation between the injury and the use of the vehicle as a motor vehicle was merely but for or incidental. Jacquelyn Walters was injured by [the camper's] gunfire. The motor vehicle was not the instrumentality of the injury, nor was the injury caused by the inherent nature of the vehicle. Gunfire by a camper, even one perhaps angered or provoked by the reckless driving of a motor vehicle, is not within the ordinary risks of driving a motor vehicle."