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LaMotte v Millers National Insurance Company; (MSC-PUB, 8/22/1991; RB #1495)


Michigan Supreme Court; Docket Nos. 87832 and 87833; Published  
Opinion by Justice Levin; Unanimous  
Official Michigan Reporter Citation:  438 Mich 1; Link to Opinion alt   

General Rule of Priority [§3114(1)]  
Exception for Motorcycle Injuries [§3114(5)]

Legislative Purpose and Intent   

In this unanimous Opinion by Justice Levin, the Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals ruling in a recoupment action between insurers of the injured party's relatives residing in his household, and held that the Court of Appeals had not correctly interpreted a 1980 amendment to the priority scheme set forth in §3114 of the No-Fault Act.  

LaMotte, a truck driver, was killed in a single vehicle accident while driving his truck insured by Millers National Insurance Company. At the time of his death, LaMotte was also deemed, by §3114 of the act, to be insured under a policy issued by State Farm to his wife. Additionally, LaMotte was also insured under a policy issued by Auto Club to his wife's mother who resided in the LaMotte household. Millers National paid the survivors loss benefits and then filed a third party complaint against State Farm and Auto Club seeking recoupment. The Court of Appeals adopted Miller's contention that a 1980 amendment to the priority provisions of §3114(1) had changed the prior language prohibiting recoupment by the insurer's of the injured person's spouse or relative and had placed such insurers on the same level of priority, thereby entitling Millers to recoupment.  

The 1980 amendment added language to §3114(1) so as to include insurers of motorcycles who provide personal injury benefits described in §3103(2) in the priority scheme.  

In reversing the Court of Appeals (Item No. 1301), the Supreme Court noted that the legislative history of Act 445, which amended §3114(1), indicates that the legislature intended no change to the priority scheme except to include motorcycles in that scheme. The amendment, which refers to personal protection insurance benefits "described in §3103(2), by its language and legislative history was intended only to include motorcycle insurers in the priority scheme and was not intended to change the priority scheme which, has always held that benefits payable under the injured person's own policy are not recoverable by way of recoupment from the policy of the injured person's spouse, relative, or relative's spouse." Therefore, the Supreme Court reversed the holding of the Court of Appeals and held that the injured person's own policy remained primary with no rights of recoupment.  

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