Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket Nos. 56795 and 58871; Published
Judges Kelly, T. M. Burns, and MacKenzie; (with Burns Concurring Separately)
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: ___________; Link to Opinion
Injunctive and Equitable Relief in PIP Cases
In this opinion by Judge Kelly, with Judge T. M. Burns concurring separately, the Court of Appeals held that it was improper for the trial court to issue a preliminary injunction pursuant to a show cause hearing ordering defendant insurance company to pay no-fault benefits to plaintiff until final having on the lawsuit. The Court gave several reasons why such equitable power should not be used in this case. First, the Court pointed out that defendant would be required to pay no-fault benefits where a factual dispute existed over whether or not the plaintiffs were actually physically disabled and unable to work. If payment was made to plaintiffs and defendant was subsequently successful in defending the action, defendant would most likely be unable to recoup the benefits it paid to plaintiffs. Second, the Court held that requiring defendant to pay these no-fault benefits prior to a hearing on the merits gives the plaintiffs the very relief they sought when the lawsuits were filed. Third, the Court held that the injunction was improper because plaintiffs had an adequate legal remedy at law to recover the benefits plus interest and attorney fees. In concluding, the Court stated, "The legislature has established a comprehensive procedure which allows an insured, who has been denied benefits, to recover those benefits. The legislature did not provide for the payment of PIP benefits while the insured's action was pending. We also would decline to do so."
In his concurring Opinion, Judge T. M. Burns agreed with the result only because the plaintiffs did not factually show that they were likely to prevail on the merits at final hearing. However, he did not agree with the majority that the injunction was improper because the plaintiffs had a legal remedy nor did he agree with the conclusion that the injunction awards plaintiffs the ultimate relief they seek, by virtue of the fact that it did not include interest, attorney fees, and future medical benefits. In agreeing with the result, Judge Burns took pains to point out that he did "not believe that such a temporary injunction is improper under all circumstances."