84th District Court for the County of Wexford; Docket No. 85-168; ____
Judge Charles D. Corwin;
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: ____; Link to Opinion
In this written opinion, Judge Corwin awarded no-fault benefits on behalf of a young child who sustained severe burn injuries in a pickup camper vehicle when a pan of boiling water spilled on top of him. The water was on the stove in the camper and was being boiled for purposes of using it to clean the interior of the camper. Apparently, the young child reached up and grabbed the pan, spilling the water onto himself. The major issue in the case was whether the child's injuries arose out of the "ownership, operation, maintenance or use of a motor vehicle as a motor vehicle" pursuant to §3105(1).
Judge Corwin denied defendant's contention that the injuries sustained in this case were not "foreseeably identifiable with the normal use, maintenance and ownership of the vehicle." The court held, "The term 'maintenance' as used in the no-fault statute must be given a liberal construction. The depositions of the child's parents clearly indicated the water was being boiled for the purpose of cleaning the camper in anticipation of a forthcoming trip. Because the insured vehicle in this case is the truck/camper as a unit, the court finds that the camper was in the process of being 'maintained,' i.e., cleaned, and mat the act of boiling the water in the camper was an integral part of the 'maintenance' process. Furthermore, although the point was not pled or argued, the court finds that the act of boiling the water constituted 'normal use' of this vehicle. In addition to the foregoing, the court finds that the burns suffered by the child were injuries 'foreseeably identifiable with the normal use, maintenance and ownership' of this vehicle. The causal connection between the injuries sustained and maintenance and use of the vehicle has been provided by the fact that the stove is an attached fixture of the vehicle, as are the propane gas tanks used to heat the stove. This causal connection is more than incidental, tortious or 'but for.' The instrumentality originating the injuries was the accessory itself, and therefore the site of the injuries cannot be said to be merely incidental."