This page identifies recent decisions and orders issued by the Michigan Supreme Court that deal with the Michigan Auto No-Fault Act.
Over the last 18 months, the Supreme Court has issued four new decisions dealing with the Auto No-Fault Act, and there are currently two cases pending decision before the Court. The first of the new decisions was issued in the case of Bronner v City of Detroit (decided 05/27/2021 in Docket No. 160242). In Bronner, the Court held that the City of Detroit could enforce an indemnity clause requiring one of its garbage vendors to pay back no-fault PIP benefits that the city had to pay to an injured person as a result of the garbage vendor’s negligence.
The second new decision was issued in the case of Yang v Everest National Ins Co (decided 06/10/2021 in Docket No. 160578). In Yang, the Court held that a cancelation letter by Everest was ineffective as a matter of law because, under the terms of the letter, “cancelation was conditioned” on a failure to pay insurance premiums.
The third new decision was issued in the case of Esurance Property & Cas Ins Co v Mich Assigned Claims Plan, et al (decided 07/26/2021 in Docket No. 160592). In this case, the Court held that Esurance was entitled to pursue a claim for equitable subrogation against the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan (MACP).
The Fourth new decision was issued in the case of Griffin v Trumbull Ins Co, et al (decided 07/15/2022 in Docket No. 162419). In Griffin, the Court held that a motorcyclist exercised all required degrees in due diligence in attempting to identify the striking driver’s no-fault insurer).
The two cases that remain pending before the Court are Mecosta Co Med Ctr v Metro Group Prop & Cas Ins Co, et al (deciding whether “the appellees’ claims for no-fault personal protection insurance benefits are barred by (1) res judicata or (2) collateral estoppel”); and Moody v Zakir, et al (deciding whether the “rescission of an insurance policy . . . bars recovery of noneconomic damages.”).
Additional information about these recent and pending no-fault decisions is provided below, along with information regarding other notable orders dealing with the Auto No-Fault Act that have been issued by the Michigan Supreme Court in the last year.
Recent Decisions by the Michigan Supreme Court
Johnson v Geico Indemnity Co
In this case involving issues of fraud, the Supreme Court VACATED the Court of Appeals’ opinion and order dated March 18, 2021, due to the decision panel’s failure to consider the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Meemic Ins Co v Forston. See Supreme Court Order dated January 4, 2022 (remanding “this case to the Court of Appeals for reconsideration in light of Meemic.”)
Bronner v City of Detroit
In this 7-0 decision (Viviano concurring), the Michigan Supreme Court upheld an indemnification provision in a contract between the Defendant City of Detroit (“City of Detroit” or “the City”) and Defendant GFL Environmental USA Inc. (“GFL”). At issue, in this case, was an indemnification agreement between the City of Detroit and GFL, whereby GFL agreed to indemnify the City against any liabilities it incurred as a result of GFL or its employees’ negligence. After a GFL garbage truck driver struck a City of Detroit bus and forced the City to have to pay PIP benefits to its passenger who was injured as a result of the collision, the City sought reimbursement from GFL pursuant to the indemnification agreement. The Supreme Court held that the indemnification agreement was valid after examining the various appellate cases which address the enforceability of provisions in no-fault insurance contracts pertaining to matters not specifically covered in the no-fault act. Based on the reasoning of those cases, the Supreme Court held that the subject indemnification provision was enforceable because it did not conflict with any of the no-fault act’s statutory sections or with the legislative purpose of the no-fault act, which the Court characterized as “to ensure that there is applicable insurance for accidents and that benefits get paid.” Justice Viviano agreed with the result reached by the majority but argued that the indemnification agreement at issue was enforceable because it did not conflict with any of the statutory sections of the no-fault act and that the majority should not have focused on the legislative goals and purpose of the no-fault act.
Yang v Everest National Ins Co
In this unanimous opinion, the Supreme Court held that “under MCL 500.3020(1)(b), a cancellation notice is effective only if it is peremptory, explicit, and unconditional.” The court then concluded that a cancellation letter by Everest was ineffective as a notice of cancellation “because Everest’s letter provided that cancellation was conditioned on Yang’s failure to pay his insurance premiums.”
Esurance Prop & Cas Ins Co v Mich Assigned Claims Plan
In this 5-2 decision authored by Justice Zahra (with Justices Clement and Viviano dissenting), the Michigan Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals’ affirmance of the trial court’s summary disposition order dismissing Plaintiff Esurance Property & Casualty Insurance Company’s (“Esurance”) equitable subrogation action against Defendant Michigan Assigned Claims Plan (“MACP”). The Supreme Court held that Esurance could seek reimbursement from the MACP under a theory of equitable subrogation for no-fault PIP benefits it paid to Roshaun Edwards after Edwards was injured in a motor vehicle collision because Esurance was neither in the order of priority for paying Edward’s PIP benefits, nor acting as a “mere volunteer” when it promptly, but mistakenly, paid those benefits.
Griffin v Trumbull Ins Co, et al
In this 4 – 3 Opinion by Justice Welch (joined by Justices McCormack, Bernstein, and Cavanagh) involving an injured motorcyclist’s claim for PIP benefits from his own auto no-fault insurer, summary disposition for the defendant insurer was REVERSED because the motorcyclist exercised all required degrees in due diligence in attempting to identify the striking driver’s no-fault insurer.
Link to MSC Summary
No-Fault Cases Currently Pending Before the Michigan Supreme Court
Mecosta Co Med Ctr v Metro Group Prop & Cas Ins Co
On January 29, 2021, the Supreme Court directed the Clerk to schedule mini oral argument on the application. In doing so, the Court instructed the parties to file supplemental briefing “addressing whether the appellees’ claims for no-fault personal protection insurance benefits are barred by (1) res judicata or (2) collateral estoppel. See Adair v Michigan, 470 Mich 105, 121 (2004); Monat v State Farm Ins Co, 469 Mich 679, 682-684 & n 2 (2004).”
Moody v Zakir, et al
On March 23, 2022, the Supreme Court directed the Clerk to schedule a mini oral argument on the application. In doing so, the Court instructed the parties to file a supplemental briefing addressing the issue of “whether the rescission of an insurance policy under the no-fault act, MCL 500.3101 et seq., bars recovery of noneconomic damages under MCL 500.3135(2)(c) on the basis that the claimant “did not have in effect . . . the security required by [MCL 500.3101(1)] at the time the injury occurred.”