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Miller v Auto-Owners; (MSC-PUB, 9/1/1981; RB #431)


Michigan Supreme Court; Docket No. 63808; Published  
Opinion by Justice Levin; Unanimous  
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: 411 Mich 633; Link to Opinion alt   

Entitlement to PIP Benefits: Arising Out of / Causation Requirement [§3105(1)]  
Exclusion for Vehicles Considered Parked [§3106(1)]  
Exception for Vehicle Maintenance [§3106]

Not Applicable   

In this unanimous Opinion by Justice Levin, the Supreme Court held that an injury which arises out of the maintenance of a motor vehicle is clearly compensable with personal insurance, protection benefits under §3105 without regard to whether the vehicle might be considered "parked" at the time of the injury. The court held that the policy of the parked vehicle exclusion set forth in §3106 does not apply to injuries arising out of the maintenance of a motor vehicle.

The court noted that there is "an apparent tension" between §3105 (which permits recovery of no-fault benefits for maintenance-related injuries) and §3106 (which restricts the payment of benefits in parked vehicle situations to only those cases which fall within the three statutory exceptions). The court stated: "Since most, if not all, maintenance is done while the vehicle is parked, and since the three exceptions appear addressed to circumstances unrelated to normal maintenance situations, a conflict appears.

The court analyzed the policy behind the parked vehicle exclusion and concluded that it should not apply to restrict recovery of benefits in maintenance situations. The court stated:

"The policy underlying the parking exclusion is not so obvious but, once discerned, is comparably definite. Injuries involving parked vehicles do not normally involve the vehicle as a motor vehicle. Injuries involving parked vehicles typically involve the vehicle in much the same way as any stationary object (such as a tree, sign post or boulder) would be involved. There is nothing about a parked vehicle as a motor vehicle that would bear on the accident."

The court also noted that the phrase "arising out of" the ownership, operation, maintenance or use of a motor vehicle as set forth in §3105 is a phrase which has been commonly used in automobile insurance policies and, thus, can be interpreted with the benefit of the body of case law which has construed that term prior to the adoption of the No-Fault Act.

[Author's Comment: This reverses the Court of Appeals decision summary in Item No. 231, and affirms the result reached by the trial court in Item No. 82].

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