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Weigle v Transamerica Insurance Corp of America; (COA-UNP, 3/3/1989; RB #1239)


Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket No. 107672; Unpublished  
Judges Shepherd, Murphy, and Gillespie; Unanimous; Per Curiam    
Official Michigan Reporter Citation:  Not Applicable; Link to Opinion alt   

Entitlement to PIP Benefits: Arising Out of / Causation Requirement [§3105(1)]  
Entitlement to PIP Benefits: Transportational Function Requirement [§3105(1)]  
Exclusion for Vehicles Considered Parked [§3106(1)]  
Exception for Unreasonably Parked Vehicles [§3106(1)(a)]  
Exception for Permanently Mounted Equipment Use [§3106(1)(b)]  
Exception for Loading / Unloading [§3106(1)(b)]  
Causal Connection Requirement [§3106]

Not Applicable   

In this unanimous per curiam Opinion, the Court of Appeals affirmed summary disposition in favor of defendant in a case where plaintiff had failed to demonstrate that an exception to the parked vehicle exclusion of §3106(1) applied to her injury.

Plaintiff was injured while assisting her husband and son move a refrigerator from the back of a pick-up truck into their house. The refrigerator had been moved up four steps to the back porch of the house, when it became apparent that it would not fit through the door. While they were resting the refrigerator on the porch, plaintiff made an effort to help by going to the truck bed to retrieve the end of the refrigerator's electric cord which was caught on the tailgate hinge. After retrieving the cord, plaintiff began walking to the back porch steps when she, with the cord still in her hand, lost her balance and fell. As she fell, her shoulder struck the bumper of the truck. The trial court granted summary disposition based upon the parked vehicle exclusion provisions.

Plaintiff claimed that she satisfied two exceptions contained in the parked vehicle exclusion set forth in §3106(1), in that (a) the vehicle was parked in such a way as to cause unreasonable risk of the bodily injury which occurred, and (b) the injury was a direct result of physical contact with equipment permanently mounted on the vehicle, while the equipment was being operated or used or property being lifted onto or lowered from the vehicle in the loading or unloading process.

The Court of Appeals was satisfied that the trial court's ruling on the first exception was correct. The risk of bodily injury in this case arose from the fact that plaintiff lost her balance on the steps leading to the porch. The fact that the truck was backed up to the steps did not increase that risk and was "not an uncommon or unreasonable technique to use" when unloading a heavy object.

With regard to the second exception, the court rejected plaintiff’s argument that the bumper was "equipment" thereby satisfying the equipment clause of the second exception. Since the equipment was not being operated or used at the time of the injury, and was merely the situs of plaintiff’s fall, that portion of the second exclusion was not satisfied. The court also rejected plaintiff’s argument that she was injured by "property being lifted onto or lowered from the vehicle in the loading or unloading process." The court held there was no evidence that plaintiff’s injury was a direct result of physical contact with the refrigerator, and therefore, that portion of the parked vehicle exclusion was not satisfied either.

The court further held that even if a parked vehicle exception were applicable, it would not reverse since no factual development could show that plaintiff’s injury arose out of the use of a motor vehicle. As was noted in Gooden v Transamerica Insurance Corp, 166 Mich App 793 (1988), the "arising out of” requirement is a separate inquiry that requires a showing of a sufficient causal nexus between the use of a motor vehicle and the injury. Here, there was no showing of any connection to the truck or the actual process of unloading causing plaintiff to fall. It was undisputed that plaintiffs injury arose when she lost her balance and fell down the steps. Having failed to show that an exception to the parked vehicle exclusion applied to her injury, or that her injury arose out of the use of a motor vehicle as a motor vehicle, the Court of Appeals

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