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Walters v Auto Owners Insurance Company; (COA-UNP, 9/5/1995; RB #1814)


Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket No. 162923; Unpublished  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 alt   

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

Not Applicable  

In this unanimous unpublished per curiam Opinion, the Court of Appeals denied no-fault PIP benefits to a woman who sustained a paralyzing gunshot wound while a passenger in a vehicle that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."

Lansing car accident lawyer Stephen Sinas is the lead editor of the appellate case summaries published on this site regarding the Michigan auto insurance law. To learn more about how Stephen Sinas and how the Sinas Dramis Law Firm can help you if you have been injured in a Michigan auto accident, visit

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