This summary also appears under Negligence & Intentional Tort
Issues: PIP benefits; Whether plaintiff's injury arose out of the ownership, operation, maintenance or use of a motor vehicle as a motor vehicle; MCL 500.3105(1); MCL 500.3106(1)(c); Teman v. Transamerica Ins. Co. of MI; Hunt v. Citizens Ins. Co.; Ansara v. State Farm Ins. Co.; Shanafelt v. Allstate Ins. Co.; Putkamer v. Transamerica Ins. Co. of Am.; McCaslin v. Hartford Accident & Indem.; King v. Aetna Cas. & Sur. Co.; Frazier v. Allstate Ins. Co.; Drake v. Citizens Ins. Co. of Am.; McKenzie v. Auto Club Ins. Ass'n; Yost v. League Gen. Ins. Co.; Miller v. Auto-Owners Ins. Co.; Hackley v State Farm Mut. Auto Ins. Co.; Musall v. Golcheff; Michigan Bell Tel. Co. v. Short
Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished)
Case Name: Williams v. Pioneer State Mut. Ins. Co.
e-Journal Number: 56407
Judge(s): Per Curiam – Beckering and Shapiro; Dissent – O’Connell
The court held that the trial court erred in granting summary disposition for defendant because plaintiff presented evidence sufficient to establish a genuine issue of material fact that she sustained her injuries while "entering into" her insured vehicle for transportational purposes. Plaintiff sued defendant after it denied her claim for PIP benefits. Plaintiff testified that she parked her car under a tree in the driveway of her niece's home, briefly visited with her niece, and then left the house and walked back to her car with the intent of driving it. "As she approached the car, several large branches from the tree fell onto the hood, damaging it. Plaintiff removed the branches, unlocked the car door, and 'opened the door to get in.' She testified that she was 'getting into the car' when another branch fell from the tree and struck her in the head, causing physical injury." On appeal, the court rejected defendant's argument that there was no evidence that plaintiff was "entering into" the vehicle at the time she was injured, finding the argument "inconsistent with both plaintiff's testimony and the applicable caselaw." It noted that Michigan appellate courts "have repeatedly held that once a plaintiff makes physical contact with a vehicle for the purpose of entering it, the process of 'entering into' has begun." It then held that "plaintiff was required to open her car door in order to accomplish her transportational purpose." The court also rejected defendant's argument that, even if plaintiff was entering her car, her injury was not sufficiently causally connected to that entrance to have a "causal relationship to the parked motor vehicle that is more than incidental, fortuitous, or but for." It held that, "we have always found that if a plaintiff is injured while entering into a vehicle for transportational purposes, a sufficient causal relationship exists, regardless of the immediate cause of the injury." Finally, the court rejected defendant's argument that "plaintiff was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time," finding that "plaintiff's testimony requires the conclusion that she was at that location at that time because she was entering her vehicle in order to operate it as a motor vehicle." Reversed and remanded.
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