Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket No. 55227; Published
Judges R. B. Burns, Bashara, and Knoblock; Unanimous; Per Curiam
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: 113 Mich App 131; Link to Opinion
Entitlement to PIP Benefits: Arising Out of / Causation Requirement [§3105(1)]
One-Year Back Rule Limitation [§3145(1)]
Tolling of Limitations for Misrepresentation / Fraud [§3145]
In this unanimous, per curiam Opinion, the Court of Appeals held that a motorcyclist was entitled to recover no-fault first party benefits when it was allegedly run off the road by an automobile which crossed the centerline, even though no physical contact occurred between the motorcycle and the automobile. The Court held that PIP benefits are available to motorcyclists who sustain injury arising out of the ownership, operations maintenance or use of a motor vehicle as provided in §3105(1) of the Act. Physical contact with the automobile is unimportant as long as the requisite causal connection is established. The Court stated, “The proper point of inquiry is whether or not the accident arose from the use of a motor vehicle. The fact that the car did not actually touch the motorcycle is irrelevant as long as the causal nexus between the accident and the car is established."
The Court also dealt with the question of whether or not the one year statute of limitation set forth in §3145(1) of the statute can be tolled by the fraudulent misrepresentations of the claims agent pursuant to MCLA 600.5855. That general tolling provision provides for the suspension of the statute of limitations in cases where one who is liable for a claim "fraudulently conceals the existence of the claim or the identity of any person who is liable for the claim." The Court noted that the Supreme Court previously interpreted this provision as requiring acts "of an affirmative character and fraudulent." The statute is not applicable where a plaintiff relies upon a defendant's nonfraudulent representations. The Court noted that the plaintiff in the case at bar had failed to allege fraud in the complaint. In addition, the conduct of the adjuster was not fraudulent. Therefore, this general tolling provision did not apply.
The Court also considered whether or not the statute of limitations would be tolled under the doctrine of "equitable estoppel." The Court again noted that there was no allegation in the Complaint that "defendant intentionally misled plaintiff, a necessary prerequisite for application of equitable estoppel." Thus, this doctrine was equally inapplicable.
Finally, the plaintiff’s separate count in tort for alleged misrepresentation was also properly dismissed by the trial court. Again, the Court noted that "defendant did not tell a falsity to plaintiff upon which he reasonably relied in waiting three years to commence suit"