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Pledge Jones v Tronex Chemical, et al; (COA-PUB, 9/27/1983; RB #681)

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Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket No. 62580; Published  
Judges Cynar, Hood, and Jason  
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: 129 Mich 188; Link to Opinion alt    


STATUTORY INDEXING:  
Entitlement to PIP Benefits: Arising Out of / Causation Requirement [§3105(1)]  
Exclusion for Vehicles Considered Parked [§3106(1)]  
Exception for Loading / Unloading [§3106(1)(b)]

TOPICAL INDEXING:
Not Applicable    


CASE SUMMARY:  
This is another case dealing with the question of whether a somewhat unusual injury "arises out of" the ownership, operation, maintenance or use of a motor vehicle so as to entitle the victim to recover no-fault benefits under §3105 of the Statute. The plaintiff in this case was a pedestrian standing at a bus stop. A City of Detroit bus traveling by the plaintiff caused water, slush and ice to be splashed upon the plaintiff and into his eye. The liquid contained a# caustic lye solution which had spilled out of a tanker trailer several hours before during the course of a chemical mixing process. The trial court granted no-fault benefits to plaintiff via summary judgment against the insurer of the bus and granted summary judgment in favor of the insurer of the tanker trailer.

This panel of the Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed the trial court's decision. The Court held that the plaintiff’s injury arose out of the ownership, operation, maintenance or use of the bus and thus, satisfied the requirements of §3105. The Court stated:

"We find it eminently foreseeable that a bus, upon encountering a pool of water, may propel that water and whatever may be mixed with it in the direction of nearby pedestrians. The likelihood that the puddle of water would contain a caustic chemical is simply not relevant to this inquiry. It is the manner in which the injury occurs which must be 'foreseeably identifiable with the normal use of the vehicle,' not the quality of the injury. . . .

"That the actual character of the resulting injury was bizarre or unexpected is not dispositive. Plaintiff’s injury directly resulted from the force of the bus as it was being operated in a normal fashion as a motor vehicle. The fact that the bus itself did not strike plaintiff does not bar his claim. See Bromley v Citizens Ins Co. (item number 495)"

In affirming summary judgment in favor of the tanker trailer's insurer, the Court held that the injury did not satisfy any of the parked vehicle exceptions set forth in §3106 of the Act, particularly §3106(l)(b). With regard to this issue, the Court based its opinion on Dowdy v Motorland (item number 319), reasoning that the truck trailer had completed its operation and left the scene of the accident substantially prior to plaintiff’s injury. As a result, the injury was not a "direct result of physical contact with property being lifted onto or lowered from the vehicle in the loading or unloading process" as required by §3106(l)(b).

The Court, however, rejected the argument that the tanker trailer was not a motor vehicle under §3101(2)(c) for the reason that the tanker truck had just driven up to the chemical mixing area before it was hooked up and had driven away again just after the spill. Thus, the case is similar to Kelly v Inter-City Truck Lines, Inc. (item number 606).



Lansing car accident lawyer Stephen Sinas is the lead editor of the appellate case summaries published on this site regarding the Michigan auto insurance law. To learn more about how Stephen Sinas and how the Sinas Dramis Law Firm can help you if you have been injured in a Michigan auto accident, visit SinasDramis.com.

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