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Detroit Medical Center and Almawri v Citizens Insurance Company and Farmers Insurance Exchange; (COA, 3/7/2006, RB #2682)


Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket #263107; Unpublished
Judges Murray, Cavanagh, and Saad; unanimous; per curiam
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: Not applicable, Link to Opinion courthouse image

Disqualification for Unlawful Taking and Use of a Vehicle [3113(a)]

Not applicable

In this unanimous unpublished per curiam opinion, the Court of Appeals affirmed summary disposition for defendant no-fault insurers finding that pursuant to MCL 500.3113(a), the injured claimants were not entitled to no-fault benefits because they had unlawfully taken the vehicle in which they were injured. Plaintiff-hospital brought this action to recover first-party expenses for the care it rendered to two minors who were injured in a motor vehicle accident in a vehicle which they and another minor had unlawfully taken. Defendants denied liability under §3113(a) and moved for summary disposition. The trial court granted the motion, finding the minors had stolen the car. On appeal, plaintiff argued there was a genuine issue of fact the minors unlawfully took the vehicle at issue. Although the Court of Appeals agreed there was no evidence the minors stole the vehicle, they were joyriding, and, under Mester v State Farm Mutual Ins Co [RB #2050], an unlawful taking under the statute includes joyriding. In this regard, the court stated:

Here, there was no evidence that the brothers intended to steal the vehicle, but they did get in the car with the intent to drive away and were, as admitted by plaintiff, joyriding. Therefore, under the holding in Mester, they were using the vehicle that they had unlawfully taken, and they are precluded from benefits under MCL 500.3113(a), unless they had a reasonable belief that they were entitled to take and use the vehicle.”

As to whether the minors had a reasonable belief they were entitled to use the vehicle, the court found that because they did not know who the owner was, and because they knew the driver was an unlicensed minor, they could not have had a reasonable belief they were entitled to take and use the vehicle. Therefore, the court affirmed the grant of summary disposition in defendants’ favor.

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