Ingham County Circuit Court; Docket No. 80-24389-NZ; Unpublished
Judge Michael G. Harrison; Written Opinion
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: Not Applicable; Link to Opinion
In a written Opinion granting summary judgment in favor of plaintiff, Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Michael G. Harrison ruled that, as a matter of law, plaintiff was entitled to recover no-fault benefits under §3105(1) when his motorcycle collided with the rear end of a parked pickup truck after plaintiff was unable to change lanes to avoid the pickup due to the presence of a moving automobile which was immediately adjacent to plaintiff’s motorcycle at the time of the accident Plaintiff argued that based upon the uncontroverted facts, he was entitled to no-fault benefits as a matter of law without regard to whether or not the pickup truck was in reasonably parked within the meaning of the parked vehicle exceptions of §3106 of the statute. Plaintiff argued that his accident arose out of the ownership, operation, maintenance or use of the Subaru motor vehicle, and thus entitled plaintiff to recover benefits under §3105(1).
There were only two witnesses to this accident the plaintiff and the operator of the Subaru. The depositions of both of these individuals were taken and presented to the court in connection with plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment. There were no other disputed facts. Judge Harrison analyzed the long line of decisions which interpreted the phrase "arising out of the ownership operation maintenance or use of a motor vehicle" as that phrase is used in §3105. These cases established that the automobile which is alleged to be involved in the accident need not be the proximate cause of the injury. In addition, the case of Shinabarger v Citizens (item number 204) holds that where the use of a motor vehicle is one of the causes of the injury, sufficient causal connection is one of the causes of the injury, sufficient causal connection is established even though there exists an independent cause. In addition, Judge Harrison noted that under §3105(2) the question of whether or not plaintiff was negligent in causing the accident is irrelevant for purposes of determining the availability of no-fault benefits. Thus, applying those principals to the undisputed facts, Judge Harrison ruled that a sufficient causal connection had been demonstrated between the moving Subaru and plaintiff’s impact with the unlighted pickup truck to entitle plaintiff to recover benefits under §3105(1) as a matter of law. Citing the case of Dembinski v Aetna (item number 42) the Court noted, "The dispute is not as to what occurred, but as to whether what occurred came within the insurance coverage. . . .This is a question of law, not of fact"