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Sayles v Ejupi and Degraaf; (COA-UNP, 2/2/2006, RB #2668)


Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket #264390; Unpublished
Judges Owens, Saad, and Fort Hood; unanimous
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: Not applicable, Link to Opinion courthouse image

Causation Issues [3135]

Not applicable

In this unanimous unpublished opinion, the Court of Appeals reversed summary disposition for defendants, finding plaintiff provided sufficient evidence the auto accident exacerbated her pre-existing back injury thus entitling her to a jury trial in her tort liability claim. In this case, plaintiff injured her neck, back and shoulder in a 1997 automobile accident. Plaintiff returned to full-time employment at her cleaning business about six months before the accident in this case. A lumbar CT performed after the second accident showed the presence of bulging disks at L4-5 and L5-S1. Cervical and lumbar MRIs revealed disc protrusion at C5-6, disc herniation at L5- S1, and bulging discs at L3-4 and L4-5. Despite ongoing treatment, plaintiff could only engage in minimal work due to pain. The trial court granted defendant summary disposition, finding plaintiff failed to show her back injury was related to the second accident. In reversing, the Court of Appeals recognized plaintiff produced evidence from three of her treating physicians that plaintiff’s condition considerably worsened after the second accident. In this regard, the court stated:

Here, plaintiff testified that although she had some discomfort in her back from the 1997 accident, she had begun working full-time about six months before the April 6, 2001 accident. She claimed that the 2001 accident had elevated the pain to a ‘whole new level;’ since the 2001 accident, she could only stay in one position for twenty minutes before she had to move to alleviate the pain. Plaintiff’s account was supported by the notes or conclusions of three physicians. . . . Moreover, the various images taken of plaintiff’s back in 2001 clearly indicated she had suffered injury. Because plaintiff presented evidence that connected defendants’ action to her injury, and causation is generally an issue of fact for the jury, we conclude summary disposition was not proper.”

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