Michigan Supreme Court; Docket No. 893 57; Published
Opinion by Justice Levin; 4-3 (with Justices Griffin, Brickley and Riley, Dissenting)
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: 441 Mich 60; Link to Opinion
Disqualification for Unlawful Taking and Use of a Vehicle [§3113(a)]
Legislative Purpose and Intent
Uniform Motor Vehicle Accident Reparations Act (UMVARA)
In this 4-3 Opinion by Justice Levin, the Supreme Court held that a 14 year old boy who took his mother's automobile without her permission during the nighttime while she was sleeping, and who was then injured when the vehicle was involved in an accident, was not disqualified from recovering no-fault benefits under his mother's insurance policy, by virtue of the disqualification provisions of §3113(a). This section states that a person is not entitled to receive PIP benefits if the person "was using a motor vehicle which he had taken unlawfully ." The majority concluded that the Legislature did not intend to disqualify a minor who was injured while "joy riding" in a vehicle taken without permission from a resident parent The majority rejected defendant Meridian's argument that the phrase "taken unlawfully" includes joy riding. Meridian supported its contention by arguing that the Uniform Motor Vehicle Accident Reparation Act (UMVARA) disqualifies from coverage a "converter" who takes a vehicle unless the converter was covered under a no-fault policy issued to the converter or resident relative. The Michigan Legislature omitted this provision of UMVARA. The majority held that the omission of this section of UMVARA did not signify the Legislature's intent to disqualify minors who joy ride in their parents' cars.
Justice Griffin dissented, joined by Justices Brickley and Riley, on the basis that the taking and use of the automobile by the minor was unlawful under the joy riding statute (MCLA 750.414), and, therefore, the minor was disqualified under §3113(a).