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Dowdy v Motorland Insurance Company; (COA-PUB, 4/24/1980; RB #319)


Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket No. 45195; Published  
Judges Holbrook, Maher, and Gillis; Unanimous; Per Curiam  
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: 97 Mich App 242; Link to Opinion alt    

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

Not Applicable    

In a unanimous per curiam Opinion, the Court of Appeals denied no-fault benefits to a plaintiff truck driver who suffered a fractured ankle when a bundle of steel rolled off of a stack on a warehouse floor, pinning the plaintiff’s leg against the left rear wheel of his tractor trailer. The bundle of steel had been previously unloaded from another truck. The plaintiff was preparing to unload a similar bundle of steel from his truck at the time he was injured.

The Court of Appeals concluded that there was no "causal connection between the plaintiff’s injury and the ownership, operation, maintenance, or use of his motor vehicle. As such, the plaintiff's injury did not fall within §3105(1) of the Act which provides that no-fault benefits are payable for accidental bodily injury arising out of the ownership, operation, maintenance or use of a motor vehicle as a motor vehicle. In so holding, the Court of Appeals specifically rejected the analysis employed in McPherson v Auto-Owners (item number 197) where the Court stated that it is sufficient if a motor vehicle "provides the occasion" for an injury as opposed to being the cause of an injury. In the case at bar, the Court held that McPherson was "wrongly decided" because such a holding "would allow recovery where the vehicle fortuitously provides the setting for the injury."

In reaching its holding, the Court concluded that the plaintiff was not entitled to recover benefits under §3106(b) inasmuch as his injury was not the direct result of physical contact with equipment permanently mounted on the vehicle or with property that was being lifted onto or lowered from the vehicle in the loading and unloading process. Furthermore, the plaintiff could not recover under §3106(c) as an occupant, because there was no causal connection between the injury and the ownership, operation, maintenance or use of the motor vehicle.

[Author's Comment: At first glance, it appears that the Court is basing its decision on the failure of the plaintiff to fall into one of the three favored subsections of the parked vehicle provisions of §3106. However, in the end, it appears that plaintiff was denied benefits because of lack of "causal connection" under §3105(1).]

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