Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket No. 78-1130; Published
Judge Bashara, Gillis, and Van Valkenburg; Unanimous
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: 95 Mich 213; Link to Opinion
Entitlement to PIP Benefits: Arising Out of / Causation Requirement [§3105(1)]
Disqualification for Intentionally Suffered Injury [§3105(4)]
Liability Policy Exclusions for Intentionally Caused Injury [§3131]
Legislative Purpose and Intent
In a unanimous Opinion by Judge Gillis, the Court of Appeals denied no-fault benefits to a plaintiff wife who sustained serious gunshot wounds at the hands of her husband while she was operating her motor vehicle. The husband was in another motor vehicle pursuing plaintiff, ran her off the road, and while she was pinned in her vehicle, came up to the car and shot her several times.
The Court of Appeals held that the plaintiff was not entitled to no-fault benefits under §3105(1) of the statute because plaintiff did not sustain injuries "arising out of the ownership, operation, maintenance, or use of a motor vehicle as a motor vehicle." The Court held that the fact that plaintiff was an occupant of her automobile at the time she sustained injuries will not alone support a finding that her injuries arose out of the use of a motor vehicle. The Court held that cases construing the phrase "arising out of" uniformly require that the injured person "establish a causal connection between the use of a motor vehicle and the injury. Such causal connection must be more than incidental fortuitous or but for. The injury must be foreseeably identifiable with the normal use of the automobile."
The Court also rendered holdings on two other significant issues. First, the Court held that the fact that plaintiff’s injuries were intentionally caused by another, was not sufficient in and of itself to exclude her from no-fault coverage. Section 3105(4) provides that bodily injury is accidental as to a person claiming no-fault benefits unless it was suffered intentionally by the injured person. Even though her husband intended to inflict the injuries, the injuries were accidental as to the plaintiff under this section.
Second, the Court held that the fact the defendant intended to assault the plaintiff did not preclude her from recovering residual liability damages under the defendant's policy. Even though the defendant's policy had an "intentional injury" exclusion clause, such a clause is invalid and unenforceable in light of §3131 of the statute. That section requires residual liability insurance coverage for "automobile liability retained by §3135." The latter section specifically retains automobile liability for "intentionally caused harm to persons or property." Thus, the insurance- policy exclusion was not contemplated by the Legislature and is thus invalid.