Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket No. 61601 and 63138; Published
Judges Maher, Holbrook, and Marutiak; Unanimous; Per Curiam
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: 123 Mich App 262; 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)]
Causal Connection Requirement [§3106]
In this unanimous per curiam Opinion, the Court of Appeals reversed summary judgment in favor of defendant and held that a plaintiff who was injured while attempting to open a rear trailer door of a tractor trailer, had stated a claim under §3106(c) of the statute for the reason that opening the door is part of the process of "entering into" the vehicle. The injuries in this case occurred when the plaintiff had one foot on the rear ledge of the trailer and, while in this position, attempted to open the door. Plaintiff intended a continuing use of the trailer in that he intended to go in and out of the trailer to unload the contents thereof. The fact that plaintiff did not specifically incorporate the phrase "entering into" in his complaint did not bar relief. The facts were sufficient to plead a cause of action for no-fault benefits under §3106(c).
Having thus established that one of the parked vehicle exceptions applies to this case, the Court then went on to the second part of this "two tier analysis" and examined whether or not plaintiff had pled a sufficient causal connection between the injury incurred and the ownership, operation, maintenance or use of a motor vehicle under §3105(1). Relying upon Shinabarger v Citizens Mutual (item number 204) the Court stated, "We think that attempting to open the trailer door with the intention of unloading the contents of the trailer is a sufficient allegation of causal connection between the injury and use of the vehicle. The vehicle was more than merely the scene of the accident It was the plaintiff’s attempt to open the door of the trailer as part of the process of entering the vehicle that caused his injuries." Therefore, plaintiff had alleged sufficient causal connection for him to maintain his action and the Circuit Court was reversed.