Issues: Automobile negligence; Third-party claim arising from an automobile accident; Whether there were questions of fact as to the nature and extent of the plaintiff's injuries; Joseph v. Auto Club Ins. Ass'n; Maiden v. Rozwood; Pena v. Ingham Cnty. Rd. Comm'n; "Serious impairment of a body function"; MCL 500.3135(1); MCL 500.3135(7); McCormick v. Carrier; "Objectively manifested"; "Impairment"; "Important body function"; "Affect the person's ability to lead his or her normal life"; Aggravation of a preexisting condition; Fisher v. Blankenship; MCL 500.3135(2)(a)(i) & (ii); Churchman v. Rickerson; Whether the court should affirm on alternate grounds; Middlebrooks v. Wayne Cnty.
Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished)
Case Name: Carlisle v. Wright
e-Journal Number: 56454
Judge(s): Per Curiam – Jansen, K.F. Kelly, Servitto
The court held that the trial court erred in granting summary disposition in defendants' favor where there were questions of fact as to the nature and extent of plaintiff's injuries. In 2008, plaintiff, then aged 75, was struck by a vehicle driven by defendant-Wright and owned by defendant-Benton Construction. Plaintiff asserted that "she had the green light while Wright ignored a red light and struck her vehicle." After the accident, her daughter took her to the ER for treatment where she was diagnosed with a neck and shoulder sprain. Plaintiff later followed up for treatment with her primary doctors. In the months following the accident, she "also experienced a rapid cognitive degeneration, with difficulties in concentrating, expressing herself and remembering things." At issue on appeal was whether plaintiff suffered a serious impairment of a body function. She asserted that her head, neck, and back injuries were objectively manifested. The court agreed that there was a question of fact as to the nature and extent of her injuries and that the trial court erred in granting defendants summary disposition. The medical reports that she submitted to substantiate her claim "were sufficient to raise a genuine issue of material fact as to whether she suffered an objectively manifested impairment of an important body function. She saw at least three different physicians." Dr. E, a neurologist, "opined that plaintiff suffered from some preexisting conditions as to her back, but that these conditions 'may have been clinically silent and aggravated by the motor vehicle accident.'" After a neuropsychological examination of plaintiff, Dr. D, a neuropsychologist, made the following finding - "Diagnostic impression is of Mild Cognitive Impairment that was significantly exacerbated by an acutely destabilizing and traumatic neurological event in the form of a cerebral concussion." Dr. L, another neurologist, determined that plaintiff had a "mild head injury with post concussive phenomenon," a possible "atypical seizure, chronic subdural hematoma or traumatic brain injury--[i.e.] Intracranial hemorrhage, confusion or other." Based upon the information received from plaintiff, L ultimately found "[p]sychophysiologic sequelae of motor vehicle accident." Even if some of her injuries were preexisting, "plaintiff provided medical support that those injuries were exacerbated by the motor vehicle accident" and thus, showed a question of fact as to whether she suffered an objectively manifested impairment of a body function. Reversed and remanded.
Issues: Premises liability; Slip and fall on ice; Genuine issue of material fact as to the "causation" element that went beyond "mere speculation"; Maiden v. Rozwood; Debano-Griffin v. Lake Co.; Buhalis v. Trinity Continuing Care Servs.; Skinner v. Square D Cnty.; Motion for reconsideration; Woods v. SLB Prop. Mgmt., LLC; Yoost v. Caspari; Churchman v. Rickerson
Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished)
Case Name: Shurtz v. U-haul Co. of MI
e-Journal Number: 56461
Judge(s): Per Curiam – Murphy, M.J. Kelly, and Ronayne Krause
Because plaintiff's theory of the cause of his fall did not go beyond mere speculation and mere speculation is not enough to survive summary disposition, the court held that the trial court did not err in granting the defendant's motion for summary disposition. Also, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying the plaintiff's motion for reconsideration because he did not present any new theories or evidence that was not available to him previously. He claimed that he slipped and fell on ice on defendant's premises while climbing up into a truck, and sustained an injury. On appeal, he argued that the trial court erred by granting defendant's motion for summary disposition because he established a genuine issue of material fact as to the causation element that went beyond mere speculation. However, the court concluded that plaintiff failed to establish that his theory was more than guesswork. He provided a plausible explanation of how there could have been ice under his foot when he slipped, "pointing to the cold temperatures, the condensation from defendant's trucks' exhaust, and the fact that vehicles had been washed elsewhere on defendant's lot and water could have run off to where" he slipped. However, he testified that he did "not see any puddles on the day of the incident, he did not feel anything on the ground other than 'cold,' and it would be pure speculation that water had run off to the vicinity of the truck." The dampness of plaintiff's coat suggested that he fell in a liquid rather than on solid ice. Further, in the absence of any corroboration in the record, such as other reports of ice, the court was unable to accept plaintiff's apparent assertion that because he slipped while climbing up into a truck, he must have slipped on ice. Plaintiff merely showed what the court in Skinner was attempting to avoid - "a theory that is quite plausible, but ultimately not supported by evidence that necessarily implies an absence of other plausible theories." The court has been clear that "if [the] evidence lends equal support to inconsistent conclusions or is equally consistent with contradictory hypotheses, negligence is not established." Without any further evidence as to any hazardous condition on the ground near the vehicle, plaintiff could not show causation. Affirmed.
This summary also appears under Insurance
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.
© 2013 State Bar of Michigan