Berrien County Circuit Court; Docket No. 78-2506-NI-H; Unpublished
Judge Julian E. Hughes
Official Reporter Citation: Not Applicable; Link to Opinion
Wage Loss for Temporarily Unemployed Persons / Qualifications [§3107a]
Injunctive and Equitable Relief in PIP Cases
In a written Opinion, Judge Hughes held that a plaintiff in a suit to recover no-fault benefits was not entitled to utilize the equitable procedure of mandatory temporary injunctions in an attempt to obtain prompt payment of no-fault benefits. The case involved a plaintiff who was seriously injured in an automobile accident but who was unemployed at the time of his injury. The plaintiff claimed that he was entitled to no-fault wage loss benefits under the "temporary unemployment" provisions of §3107a of the no-fault act.
Judge Hughes held that the plaintiff’s claim for a mandatory temporary injunction should be denied on the basis that the plaintiff could not establish irreparable harm or injury inasmuch as that term is normally defined as an injury that cannot adequately be compensated with monetary damages. The judge held that after a determination of the legal and fact issues involved in the case, the plaintiff’s damages could be easily ascertained and measured in dollars. Furthermore, the Judge noted that if the plaintiff is successful he is entitled to recover 12 percent interest for overdue payments and reasonable attorney fees if the insurer was unreasonable in delaying payment of benefits.
Judge Hughes also noted that the granting of a mandatory temporary injunction could possibly work irreparable injury on the defendant if the defendant ultimately prevailed at the trial. The defendant would then be left with a possibly worthless cause of action against the plaintiff for reimbursement of sums that had been paid pursuant to the granting of such an injunction.
Judge Hughes also held that as a matter of policy, the introduction of the no-fault act should not result in the abolition or radical modification of certain legal procedures that have served our judicial system well. Utilization of summary equitable proceedings could very likely turn the circuit court into a "super claims examiner" that would become involved every time a dispute arose between an insurance company and an insured as to payment of no-fault benefits. Judge Hughes also noted that in addition to the statutory sanctions available to the plaintiff, the defendant insurance company who unreasonably processed claims under the no-fault statute was subject to the jurisdiction of the Michigan Insurance Commission.
Finally, Judge Hughes considered the cases of Miller v DAIIE (item number 79) and Schaible v Michigan Mutual (item 106) but felt that those decisions constituted no binding authority.