Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket No. 83689; Published
Judges Gribbs, Branson, and Stephens (Branson not Participating); Per Curiam
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: 161 Mich App 450; Link to Opinion
In this per curiam Opinion, the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's order granting summary judgment to defendant Allstate in another post-Thornton (Item No. 935) case. The issue concerned whether plaintiff received an injury arising out of the ownership, operation, maintenance or use of a motor vehicle within the meaning of §3105(1), when he was shot while occupying a motor vehicle.
The insurance company contended that the involvement of a motor vehicle in this case was merely fortuitous and was not the instrumentality of harm. Plaintiff contended that his assailant did not discharge the firearm directly at him, but rather at the vehicle in which he was sitting. A police investigation revealed that the assailant was the owner of a residence in Flint where the injury occurred, and that the plaintiff had driven into the driveway of this residence blowing his horn constantly and waving what looked to be a gun to the assailant The property owner then grabbed his rifle, pointed it in the direction of the car, and fired it once at the car. Quoting extensively from Thornton, supra, the Court of Appeals held that an assault by an armed assailant upon the driver of a car is generally not the type of conduct that is reasonably identifiable with the use of an automobile. However, when the assault is directed at the vehicle itself, rather than the driver, the causal relationship is sufficient for liability. In this case, the Court felt that the car was not merely the situs of the injury, and that there was a factual issue as to the relationship between the functional character of the motor vehicle and the injuries.