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Detroit Medical Center v Titan Ins Co; (COA-UNP, 9/17/2013; RB #3320)


Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket #311036; Unpublished  
Judges Murphy, Markey and Riordan; Unanimous; Per Curiam  
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: Not Applicable; Link to Opinion alt  

Definition of Owner [§3101(2)(h)]
Obligation of Motorcycle Owner/Registrant to Insure Motorcycles [§3103(1)]
Disqualification for Uninsured Owners or Registrants of Involved Motor Vehicles or Motorcycles [§3113(b)]

Motor Vehicle Code (Definition of Owner) (MCL 257.37) (MCL 257.401A)
Motor Vehicle Code (Registration and Title Requirements) (MCL 257.201, et seq.)

In this unanimous per curiam unpublished Opinion involving whether the operator of an uninsured motorcycle was disqualified from receiving benefits under MCL 500.3113(b), the Court of Appeals held that summary disposition was improperly granted for the insurer because a question of fact existed about whether the operator of the motorcycle acquired ownership of the motorcycle within the meaning of “owner” in §3101(2)(h).

Plaintiff hospital treated Jose Ibarra, the motorcycle operator, for the injuries he suffered in a collision with a motor vehicle. Defendant insured the vehicle. Plaintiff submitted a claim to defendant for the costs of treating Ibarra, but defendant denied payment, asserting that Ibarra was not entitled to benefits under §3113(b) because he was the owner of an uninsured motorcycle. Plaintiff filed this action seeking payment of the hospital bill. The trial court granted summary disposition for defendant.

The Court of Appeals reversed, citing the definition of “owner” in both the No-Fault Act and the Motor Vehicle Code, finding there was a genuine issue about who actually owned the motorcycle that Ibarra was operating. In so ruling, the Court of Appeals recognized that, for a person to be the owner of a motorcycle, the person must be the titled owner and, in this case, there was no evidence of a complete transfer of title and, therefore, there was a question about who actually “owned” the motorcycle. The court said:

“The evidence presented by Titan in support of summary disposition does not demonstrate that Ibarra actually signed the assigned certificate of title as required by MCL 257.233(9). The record reflects that pursuant to MCL 257.233(8), [the seller] signed the title assignment section and gave the title to Ibarra. But the record is devoid of any evidence that Ibarra signed an application for title or the assignment of the certificate of title for purposes of MCL 257.233(9). …Thus, the evidence did not support that the transfer was complete or that Ibarra was the person who had ‘legal title’ to the motorcycle.”

Accordingly, plaintiff’s claim was erroneously dismissed, the Court of Appeals concluded, remanding the case for further proceedings.

Lansing car accident lawyer Stephen Sinas is the lead editor of the appellate case summaries published on this site regarding the Michigan auto insurance law. To learn more about how Stephen Sinas and how the Sinas Dramis Law Firm can help you if you have been injured in a Michigan auto accident, visit

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