CLICK HERE TO READ ENTIRE VOLUME

Volume XXVIII, No. 11, April 18, 2016        

From the Law Offices of Garan Lucow Miller, P.C.

From the Editor: Sarah Nadeau

***********************************

COURT OF APPEALS ADDRESSES WHETHER A CLAIMANT’S DOMICILE
AFFECTS PIP COVERAGE UNDER MCL 500.3163(1)

By Ladd Culbertson

In Dahlmann v Geico, Unpublished Opinion per curium, of the Court of Appeals, decided March 22, 2016 (Docket No. 324698), Dahlmann had insured her van under a policy issued by Geico while she and her family were living in Virginia. The policy did not include an endorsement for Michigan PIP benefits.  After her husband was deployed out to sea for an extended time by the Navy, Dahlmann terminated her apartment lease in Virginia, cancelled utilities, and moved the family’s furniture and most of their belongings into a storage unit. She then left Virginia with her three children, first visiting family in Georgia and then Wyoming, before arriving in Michigan. After arriving in Lansing, Michigan, Dahlmann rented an apartment with the intention of staying at that location temporarily, until her husband returned from his deployment and received his new station orders.[1]

Several days after renting the apartment, Dahlmann was stopped at a traffic light in her van when another driver, Gregory Romig, approached and began punching her door and window in an apparent case of road rage, causing damage to the vehicle. After Romig returned to his own vehicle, Dahlmann got out in an effort to photograph his license plate, but was struck and injured by Romig’s vehicle as he drove away.  Dahlmann later made a claim for Michigan PIP benefits from Geico, her own automobile insurer.

Because the Geico policy did not include a Michigan PIP endorsement, the Trial Court and Court of Appeals each had to examine MCLA 500.3163(1), including the use of the term “out-of-state resident”.  MCLA 500.3163(1), states as follows:

An insurer authorized to transact automobile liability insurance and personal and property protection insurance in this state shall file and maintain a written certification that any accidental bodily injury or property damage occurring in this state arising from the ownership, operation, maintenance or use of a motor vehicle as a motor vehicle by an out-of-state resident who is insured under its automobile liability insurance policies, shall be subject to the personal and property protection insurance system set forth in this act.

Under this section, an insurer who has filed a certification with the State of Michigan may become subject to the Michigan no-fault statute when someone is injured through the use of a motor vehicle by someone insured under its automobile liability policy, when the insured is not a resident of Michigan, if the accident occurs within Michigan.

The Court of Appeals ultimately agreed with arguments presented on behalf of Geico, concluding that Dahlmann had intended to adopt Lansing, Michigan as her new domicile until her husband received a new assignment following his naval deployment, and was therefore a Michigan resident at the time of the accident. In its opinion, the Court of Appeals engaged in a lengthy analysis regarding the differences between the terms “residence” and “domicile”, as used in the no-fault act.

The Court concluded that while Dahlmann may have anticipated changing her residence and domicile again in the near future, her domicile had changed to her Lansing apartment while she was awaiting her husband’s new service assignment. Because Dahlmann was not an “out-of-state resident”, the Court held that MCLA 500.3163 did not apply and Geico was not required to supply her with Michigan no-fault benefits.

In a concurring opinion, Judge Elizabeth Gleicher disagreed with the analysis in the majority’s opinion, but agreed with the result. Judge Gleicher believed that the issue of whether Dahlmann was domiciled in Michigan had factual conflicts which precluded a determination as a matter of law.  However, Judge Gleicher noted that MCLA 500.3163(1) also requires that the injuries must arise out of the “use of a motor vehicle as a motor vehicle by an out-of-state resident”. Relying upon an alternative argument made on behalf of Geico, Judge Gleicher stated that even if Dahlmann had been an “out-of-state resident”, her injuries did not arise out of heruse of a motor vehicle. Rather, her injuries were the result of the use of the motor vehicle by Gregory Romig, who was confirmed to be a resident of Michigan. Concluding that Dahlmann’s own vehicle played only an “inconsequential part in the chain of events that led to her injuries”, Judge Gleicher likewise concluded that section 3163 did not mandate that Geico provide no-fault benefits on her behalf.

 


 

[1] Defendant Geico General Insurance Company was represented by Garan Lucow Miller, P.C. attorneys Ladd Culbertson in the trial court, and Daniel Saylor in the Court of Appeals.

 

*****************************

 

REGISTER NOW!

GRAND RAPIDS SPRING BREAKFAST SEMINAR

April 21, 2016 at the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park

You and your co-workers are invited to attend our Annual Spring Breakfast Seminar at the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park on Thursday, April 21, 2016. After the seminar, please enjoy all of the indoor and outdoor garden areas as our guests, including the always wonderful Butterflies Are Blooming exhibit.

If you are able to attend this complimentary client event, please R.S.V.P., along with the full names and number of attendees, to Lynn Beatty at lbeatty@garanlucow.com or call our office at 616-742-5500. We look forward to seeing you at the gardens.


AGENDA

8:00 – 8:25 a.m.       Registration and Continental Breakfast

8:25 – 8:30 a.m.       Welcome and Introduction
L. Ladd Culbertson, Moderator

8:30 – 8:50 a.m.       Michigan Third-Party (Automobile Negligence and Premises Liability) Updates
How courts have applied McCormick v Carrier and Lugo v Ameritech over the past year
Speaker: Berton K. May

 8:50 – 9:10 a.m.       The Effect of Covenant v State Farm on First Party No-Fault (PIP) Settlements and the Continued
                                 Importance of Properly Drafted Releases and Dismissal Orders
Speaker: Paul W. Gipson

9:10 – 9:30 a.m.         Recent Challenges to the Innocent Third Party Rule in PIP Cases
Speaker: Tara L. Velting

9:30 – 10:00 a.m.       Utilizing Proprietary Software to Effortlessly Track and Document the Online Activity of
                                  Claimants or Plaintiffs
Guest Speaker: Curt De Vries, President of Fraudsniffr

10:00 – 10:15 a.m.      Break

10:15 – 11:30 a.m.      Michigan First Party No-Fault (PIP) Updates
A comprehensive review of significant court decisions over the past year
Speaker: Emily L. Partridge

 11:30 – 11:50 a.m.     Utilizing the Bankruptcy Code as a Tool for Insurers to Recover Benefits Paid to Insureds as the Result
                                   of Fraudulent Claims
Speaker: Courtney A. Krause

11:50 – 12:05 p.m.     Uber and Self-Driving Vehicles: the Implications on Coverage and Liability from
                                  Developing Technology
Speaker: David A. Couch

12:05 – 12:15 p.m.    Question and Answer Session with the Panel of Speakers

 

 

*****************************

 

REGISTER NOW!

INDY CITY SEMINAR

Garan Lucow Miller, P.C. is pleased to present its seventh annual Indy City Seminar, covering both Indiana and Michigan law, as well as a full Deposition Boot Camp, on Thursday, May 19, 2016 at the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown, 350 West Maryland Street, Indianapolis, IN 46225, (317) 822-3500. The day will begin with a continental breakfast and registration at 8:30 a.m., followed by the morning program. Lunch will then be provided. In the afternoon, please join us for our Deposition Boot Camp program. Comprehensive written materials will be distributed to all seminar attendees.

If you are able to attend this complimentary client program, please register via e-mail with Eileen Carty at ecarty@garanlucow.com or call Ms. Carty at (800) 875-7600. We hope to see you there!

AGENDA

8:30 – 8:55 a.m.         Continental Breakfast and Registration

8:55 – 9:00 a.m.         Welcome and Introduction
Speaker: Gregory M. Bokota, Esq.

9:00 – 9:40 a.m.         Comprehensive Indiana Law Updates
Speaker: Gregory M. Bokota

9:40 – 10:00 a.m        Uber and Self-Driving Vehicles: the Implications on Coverage and Liability from Developing Technology
Speaker: David A. Couch, Esq.

10:00 – 10:30 a.m      Real Property Aspects of Michigan PIP Home Modifications
Speaker: Rachel A. Bissett, Esq.

10:30 – 10:45 a.m.     Morning Break

10:45 – 11:30 a.m.     Comprehensive Michigan First Party No Fault PIP Updates
Speakers: John W. Whitman, Esq. and Rachel A. Bissett, Esq.

11:30 – 12:00 p.m.     Bad Faith Claims in Indiana and Illinois
Speaker: Jennifer E. Davis, Esq.

12:00 – 12:15 p.m.     Question and Answer Session
All Speakers

12:15 – 12:45 p.m.     Lunch Provided

12:45 – 3:00 p.m.       Deposition Boot Camp
Speaker: John W. Whitman, Esq.