Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket No. 93462; Unpublished
Judges Wahls, Maher, and Kallman; Unanimous; Per Curiam
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: Not Applicable; Link to Opinion
In this per curiam Opinion, the Court of Appeals addressed another post-Thornton (Item No. 935) case, concerning whether plaintiff’s injuries arose out of the ownership, operation, maintenance or use of a motor vehicle within the meaning of §3105(1). In this case, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's grant of summary disposition in favor of both defendants on the "arising out of" issue.
Plaintiff was injured while occupying a motor vehicle as a passenger. The vehicle was a van equipped with a sunroof, from which the van's owner and driver was intending to launch a bottle rocket on July 4, 1984. A spark from the rocket ignited a bag of gun powder which was placed between the driver's and passenger's seat. From this spark, a flash fire engulfed plaintiff in flames, causing severe burns over his chest, arms and left leg.
In reliance upon the Thornton, supra, decision, the Court of Appeals held that the van in this case was not being used as a motor vehicle, but rather as a launching pad for fireworks. As such, the Court of Appeals felt that the involvement of the vehicle was merely fortuitous, and there could be no recovery of no-fault personal injury protection benefits. The Court rejected plaintiff’s argument that the injuries were sustained in part due to the existence of the sunroof in the van, and that there never would have been an injury but for the existence of something inherent to the vehicle. The Court held that if the bottle rocket had been lit outside of the van, and plaintiff was present with a bag of gun powder nearby, he would have sustained the same injuries.