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Hathcox v Liberty Mutual; (COA-PUB, 6/5/1979; RB #198)


Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket No. 78-1773; Published   
Judges Kelly, Maher, and Walsh   
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: 90 Mich App 511; Link to Opinion alt   

Exception for Employer Provided Vehicles [§3114(3)]
Exception for Occupants [§3114(4)]

Workers Disability Compensation Act (MCL 418.1, et seq.)   

In this Opinion, another panel of the Court of Appeals adopted the philosophy of the Supreme Court's decision in the Nickerson v Citizen's Mutual, 393 Mich 324 (1975), defining the meaning of the word "occupant" as that word is used in §3114(3) of the statute. In applying the Nickerson test, the Court held that Michigan courts have construed the term "occupying" to embrace a zone of connection with the subject vehicle, thus including persons not actually inside the motor vehicle at the time of the injury. In so holding, the Court found that the plaintiff in the instant case was an "occupant" of his employer's vehicle when the plaintiff slipped and fell on top of a trailer deck, falling from the deck to the ground. The Court emphasized the plaintiff’s relationship to the motor vehicle at the time of his injury and noted that he had been engaged in the loading of the vehicle and occasionally had to reenter the vehicle's interior in order to readjust the accelerator during the loading operation.

In addition to its holding on the occupancy issue, the Court unanimously rejected the opinion in Mathis v Interstate (item number 28) and ruled that the exclusive remedy provision of the worker's compensation statute does not prohibit a plaintiff from recovering no-fault benefits from his employers' no-fault carrier pursuant to §3114(3) of the statute where the plaintiff sustains bodily injury while occupying his employer's vehicle in the course of his employment In so ruling, the Court specifically adopted Judge Allen's dissent in the Ottenwess (item number 94) decision.

[Author's Comment: This opinion reverses item number 70.]

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