Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket No. 100596; Published
Judges Sullivan, Murphy, and Warshawsky; Unanimous; Per Curiam
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: 174 Mich App 700; Link to Opinion
Entitlement to PIP Benefits: Arising Out of / Causation Requirement [§3105(1)]
In this unanimous, published per curiam Opinion, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's award of first party no-fault benefits to plaintiff who injured himself when struck by a wash wand at a self-serve auto wash.
Plaintiff drove his pickup truck into a coin operated self-serve auto wash for the purpose of cleaning his truck. He had not taken the wash wand out of the holder before placing his money in the machine. At that time, he was struck by the wash wand and suffered injury to his eye.
Auto-Club argued that the plaintiff’s injuries did not arise out of the ownership, operation, maintenance or use of a motor vehicle, but rather, out of the use of the coin operated self-serve washing system.
The Court of Appeals, in reliance upon the Supreme Court decision in Thornton v Allstate (Item No. 935), held that the connection between plaintiff’s injuries and the maintenance of his motor vehicle was more than incidental, fortuitous or "but for." Here, the motor vehicle was "the central object of the circumstance" which give rise to plaintiffs cause of action. The wash wand was merely the tool needed to accomplish the task. The Court of Appeals also rejected the argument that washing the motor vehicle was not "maintenance" within the meaning of the statute. The term maintenance as used in the no-fault statute includes more than mechanical repairs. Citing the Yates v Hawkeye (Item No. 1008) decision, the court held that it had adopted a broad definition of maintenance in order to advance the purposes of the No-Fault Act.
Finally, the court also rejected the argument that plaintiff’s injuries arose from contact with the wash wand, as opposed to contact with the truck. The court held that no authority was cited for the argument that injuries necessarily have to be received directly from the motor vehicle while performing maintenance.