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Miller v Auto-Owners Insurance Company; (COA-PUB, 9/5/1979; RB #231)

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Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket No. 78-3028; Published   
Judges Maher, Kelly, and Walsh; Unanimous; Opinion by Judge Maher   
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: 92 Mich App 263; Link to Opinion alt   


STATUTORY INDEXING:
Entitlement to PIP Benefits: Arising Out of / Causation Requirement [§3105(1)]
Exclusion for Vehicles Considered Parked [§3106(1)]
Exception for Vehicle Maintenance [§3106]

TOPICAL INDEXING:
Not Applicable   


CASE SUMMARY:
In a unanimous Opinion by Judge Maher, the Court of Appeals ruled that a plaintiff who was injured when his automobile fell on top of him while plaintiff was attempting to install new shock absorbers, was injured in connection with the "maintenance" of a "parked vehicle" and thus, in order to recover no-fault benefits, must fall into one of the three favored subsections of §3106 of the statute.

In reaching this conclusion, the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's decision that the plaintiff’s vehicle was not parked. The trial judge had ruled that parking involves three things: (1) a voluntary and temporary act, (2) the act of leaving the vehicle, and (3) the vehicle must not be in use. The Court of Appeals disagreed with the second element of the trial judge's definition — the act of leaving the vehicle. In ruling that the injured person need not leave the vehicle in order for the vehicle to be defined as parked, the Court noted that such a definitional requirement would render meaningless the exceptions listed in §3106(b) and §3106(c) which deal with injuries incurred in the loading and unloading process and injuries incurred while occupying a vehicle.

It is important to note that the Court of Appeals decision did not venture a definition as to what the word "parked" or "parking" means. In addition, the Court of Appeals decision did not take issue with the other two elements of the trial judge definition. With regard to the concept of parking the Court stated, "Although every stopped vehicle clearly is not parked (e.g. vehicles stopped by a traffic jam or by a red light), we are of the opinion that a vehicle in a parking lot, with the engine stopped and the rear wheels on blocks is a parked vehicle. Whether or not the vehicle is occupied or attended is immaterial to the determination whether or not it is parked."

[Author's Comment: This opinion reverses the opinion summarized in item number 82. Application For Leave to Appeal with the Michigan Supreme Court has been filed.]


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