Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket No. 56634; Published
Judges Maher, Bronson, and Snow; Unanimous
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: 118 Mich App 648; Link to Opinion
Entitlement to PIP Benefits: Arising Out of / Causation Requirement [§3105(1)]
Exclusion for Vehicles Considered Parked [§3106(1)]
Exception for Entering Into or Alighting From [§3106(1)(c)]
In this unanimous Opinion by Judge Maher, the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's denial of defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment and ruled that a plaintiff who suffered injuries while slipping on the ice in a parking lot preparing to enter his parked vehicle was not entitled to no-fault benefits. The Court of Appeals held that benefits were not available for two reasons. First, the plaintiff did not fall within the "entering into" parked vehicle exceptions set forth in §3106(c). The Court held that the undisputed facts show that the plaintiff was not entering into his vehicle when he slipped and fell, but was "merely preparing to enter."
The fall in question occurred when plaintiff was holding a bag of groceries in his left hand and had removed his keys from his pocket and was reaching to unlock the car door. Plaintiff’s hand was approximately two inches away from the car at the time of the fall and plaintiff could not remember whether the key ever touched the car. In ruling that the plaintiff’s injuries were "preparatory" to entering, the Court did not fashion a definition of that actually constituted the act of entering into the vehicle.
The second reason for denying benefits was that plaintiff’s injury did not arise out of the ownership, operation, maintenance or use of a motor vehicle as required by §3105(1) of the Act. The Court held that "slipping on ice is simply not foreseeably identifiable with the act of entering a vehicle." As such, the requisite "causal connection" was absent in this case. In so holding, the Court rejected the previous opinion of the Court of Appeals in McPherson v Auto Owners, item number 197, which held that the vehicle need only provide the site of the injury.