Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket No. 117718; Unpublished
Judges Shepherd, Sawyer, and McDonald; 2-1 (with Judge McDonald Dissenting)
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: Not Applicable; Link to Opinion
In this 2-1 per curiam Opinion, Judge McDonald dissenting, the Court of Appeals affirmed the grant of summary disposition to defendant in a case interpreting the "arising out of'" provisions of §3105.
In this case, plaintiff was riding a horse around the inside of a barn, when a car drove by the opening to the barn and allegedly frightened her horse. Plaintiff was thrown from the horse and sustained injuries. Her claim for no-fault benefits was denied by the defendant on the basis that her injuries did not arise out of the ownership, operation, maintenance, or use of a motor vehicle as a motor vehicle as required under §3105(1).
The court, in reliance upon the Supreme Court decision of Thornton v Allstate Insurance, 425 Mich 643 (1986), held that the operation of a motor vehicle in this case was "too tenuously related to the injury to allow recovery of no-fault benefits." Even assuming that the horse was frightened by the car passing by, the causal connection between the use of a motor vehicle as a motor vehicle and the injury was merely incidental and fortuitous. It was not the nature of the vehicle as a motor vehicle that caused plaintiffs injury, but rather, the apparently loud noise it made that frightened the horse, which, in turn, bucked and threw plaintiff to the ground. Any number of things could have frightened the horse. The fact that it was a car driving by was merely coincidental.
In his dissent, Judge McDonald believed that the relationship between the injury and the vehicular use of the automobile was more than "but for," incidental or fortuitous. There was a causal connection between the automobile and the injury, so it is irrelevant that there was no physical contact with either plaintiff or the horse on which she was riding. He would reverse.