Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket No. 88752; Published
Judges R.B. Burns, Maher, and Brouillette; Per Curiam
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: 157 Mich App 711; Link to Opinion
Entitlement to PIP Benefits: Arising Out of / Causation Requirement [§3105(1)]
Entitlement to PIP Benefits: Motor Vehicle Involvement [§3105(1)]
Exclusion for Vehicles Considered Parked [§3106(1)]
In this unanimous per curiam Opinion, the Court of Appeals reversed a trial court grant of summary disposition in favor of defendant in a case involving interpretation of the definition of "maintenance" of a motor vehicle.
Plaintiff’s son was engaged in the process of chopping wood on the family farm and loading it into a pickup truck. Plaintiff later joined his son, arriving at the scene by way of a Case tractor, driving on a "two-track" road across one of the farm's fields. When the task was completed, the two men decided to -return to their house for lunch. Plaintiff sat on the tractor and was proceeding up the two-track road when he observed his son was unable to get the pickup truck up to the top of a hill. Plaintiff backed the tractor down the hill in order to attach a chain and pull the truck to the top. The tractor was stopped in neutral, and the pickup truck was left running while the two men proceeded to hook up chains between the truck and the tractor. The tractor rolled back and pinned the plaintiff between the truck and the tractor, causing serious injury. The trial court granted summary disposition, holding that plaintiff’s injuries did not arise out of the "maintenance" of a motor vehicle as a motor vehicle within the meaning of §3105(1).
The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's decision, holding that prior decisions had adopted a broad definition of maintenance of a motor vehicle in order to advance the purposes of the No-Fault Act. Since plaintiff was injured while in the act of preparing to tow an automobile, and towing or preparation to tow constitutes maintenance of a vehicle, his injuries come within the provisions of the No-Fault Act and he is entitled to benefits under §3105(1).
The Court of Appeals also rejected the argument that the vehicles were "parked" within the meaning of the parked vehicle exception of §3106(1). Citing the case of Miller v Auto-Owners (Item No. 431), the Court concluded that injuries arising out of the maintenance of an automobile must be compensated, without regard to whether the vehicle might be considered "parked" at the time of the injury.