Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket No. 86799; Published
Judges T.M. Burns, Gillis, and Kelly; Unanimous; Per Curiam
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: 156 Mich App 359; Link to Opinion
In this 2-1 Opinion by Judge Kelly, the Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court's summary judgment awarding no-fault benefits to a plaintiff who lost three fingers of his right hand when a shotgun accidentally discharged as it was being removed from the passenger compartment of plaintiff s van. The shotgun was stored behind the passenger and driver seat. The accident occurred at night, immediately after plaintiff and his companion had arrived at their hunting camp. The two were still seated in the vehicle. The vehicle was dimly lit. The shotgun discharged when plaintiff’s companion was attempting to maneuver it around the tight confines of the interior of the vehicle in the process of removing it from the vehicle.
The majority opinion concluded that plaintiff’s injury clearly involved a parked motor vehicle. In addition, the injury clearly fell within §3106(b) and §3106(c). Therefore, the only real question was whether or not the injury arose out of the ownership, operation, maintenance or use of a motor vehicle as a motor vehicle, thus establishing the sufficient causal connection required by §3105(1). In holding that an adequate causal nexus existed, the majority stated.
"We further recognize that several causes contributed to the accident in this case, including Peterson's failure to unload his weapon prior to transportation and his failure to secure the safety catch, neither of which should result in no-fault liability. Nevertheless, we think that the relatively confined and dimly lit quarters within which Peterson had to maneuver his weapon in order to unload it from the van contributed as one of the causes of the sequence of events which occurred in this case. Since plaintiff’s van was more than merely the site of the accident, we find inapposite the intentional assault cases cited by defendant in its brief on appeal and recently addressed by the Supreme Court in Thornton v Allstate."
Judge Gillis dissented, holding that a material factual dispute existed which made summary disposition inappropriate.