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Michigan Bell Telephone v Short; (COA-PUB, 7/21/1986; RB #1023)


Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket No. 84357; Published  
Judges Shepherd, Kelly, and Tahvonen; Per Curiam  
Official Michigan Reporter Citation:  153 Mich App 431; Link to Opinion alt    

Entitlement to PIP Benefits: Arising Out of / Causation Requirement [§3105(1)]    
Exclusion for Vehicles Considered Parked [§3106(1)]    
Exception for Entering Into or Alighting From [§3106(1)(c)]    
Workers Comp Liens Regarding Auto Tort Claims [§3116]

Workers Disability Compensation Act (MCL 418.1, et seq.)    

The issues presented in this case are very similar to those decided by the Supreme Court in Bialochowski v Cross (Item No. 1021). The primary issue was whether a workers' compensation carrier was entitled to reimbursement out of the plaintiff’s subsequent tort recovery. The Court resolved the issues by deciding whether plaintiff’s injury was the type that would entitle her to recover no-fault benefits under the statute. If so, the workers' compensation carrier simply substituted for the no-fault insurer and has tort reimbursement rights that are co-extensive with a no-fault insurer's rights under §3116 of the Act.

The plaintiff in this case sustained injury when she was attempting to alight from her employer's pick-up truck. She stepped from the bed of the truck onto the tailgate which dropped open and caused her to fall to the ground. The accident happened because a car wash failed to replace certain hooks which were necessary to secure the tailgate after the car wash had cleaned the bed of the truck. The Court concluded that plaintiff’s injuries would have entitled her to recover no-fault benefits for the reason that they arose out of the "maintenance" of the vehicle. The Court stated, "the term maintenance as used in the No-Fault Act includes more than mechanical repairs. . . . Generally, the term maintenance is to be liberally construed in accordance with its common sense meaning. . . .Given the fact that Michigan Bell contracted with Mobil Wash to clean and wax the company's work trucks on a regular basis, we conclude that this activity constituted a normal maintenance service to the motor vehicles involved and any injuries causally connected to that activity fall under the provisions of the No-Fault Act." Therefore, the workers' compensation carrier was not entitled to reimbursement.

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