Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket No. 72081; Published
Judges Shepherd, Allen, and Keyes; Unanimous; Opinion by Judge Allen
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: 133 Mich App 694; Link to Opinion
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)]
Causal Connection Requirement [§3106]
In this unanimous Opinion by Judge Allen, the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's conclusion that a plaintiff who sustained a heart attack while unloading a semi-trailer in the course of his employment could not, as a matter of law, recover no-fault benefits under §3105 and §3106 of the Act The trial court ruled that plaintiffs heart attack did not entitle him to recover no-fault benefits because it was not an "accidental bodily injury" as defined by §3105. Defendant contended that under the decision in Wheeler v Tucker Freight Lines (item number 643) no-fault benefits are payable only for an injury sustained in a single accident "which has a temporal and spatial location."
The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court, holding that the plaintiffs right to no-fault benefits involved a question of fact The Court stated, "while defendant Home argues strenuously that the accident or heart problem was caused by 44 years of accumulated blockage of plaintiff’s arteries, this Court and its interpretation of the Act must deal with the nationwide acceptance of the proposition that "physical strain can cause cardiac disability or death." Our Supreme Court so held in Kostamo v Marquette Iron Co, 405 Mich 105 (1979)... this Court had previously concluded that [§3106(b)] makes compensable injuries which are a direct result of physical contact with property being lifted or lowered from a parked vehicle in the loading or unloading process. Ritchie v Federal Ins Co (item number 712).. .. Similarly, given the widely accepted premise that cardiovascular disabilities can be caused by physical strain, we conclude that the instant case is not one properly resolved by summary judgment pursuant to GCR 117.2(1). Whether plaintiff’s myocardial infarction and the resultant disability are directly traceable to his unloading of the trailer in Milwaukee, Wisconsin involves a factual question, presumably one to be resolved by the jury.