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Volume XXVIII, No. 23, August 16, 2016 

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

From the Editor: Sarah Nadeau

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COURT OF APPEALS AFFIRMS AWARD OF ATTORNEY FEES PURSUANT TO
MCL 500.3148(2) BECAUSE PLAINTIFF’S CLAIM FOR PIP BENEFITS WAS “SO
EXCESSIVE TO HAVE NO REASONABLE FOUNDATION” AND “IN SOME
RESPECT FRAUDULENT.”
  

By Caryn A. Ford

In Bulmann v Auto-Owners, No 326788, unpublished opinion (June 16, 2016), the Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed a trial court’s factual findings of fraud and application of MCL 500.3148(2) to impose attorney fees because the claimant submitted claims for attendant care and replacement services that were both “so excessive as to have no reasonable foundation” and “in some respect fraudulent” as Plaintiff either knowingly or recklessly submitted claims for attendant care benefits. 

During a jury trial, the plaintiff claimed that a friend provided 12 hours of attendant care and replacement services.  The friend, however, testified that she did not provide 12 hours’ worth of services for many of the days which replacement services and attendant care costs were claimed.  These days included three days in January when they were traveling, a significant period between March and May of 2013 when the friend was taking care of her ill sister, not the claimant, four days when the plaintiff was away deer hunting, and then over a month period after the friend underwent back surgery, at which time the Plaintiff actually assisted his friend.  There were also several days where the friend admitted that she did not see the plaintiff during the time period claimed for attendant care and replacement services but testified that there was telephone communication. 

At trial, video surveillance was introduced showing plaintiff driving a tractor and operating a motor vehicle which contradicted Plaintiff’s claim that his injury had rendered him unable to drive. 

Plaintiff’s claim was submitted to the jury which ultimately determined that although the Plaintiff was injured it did not arise out of the ownership, operation, maintenance or use of a motor vehicle and, thus, a judgment of no cause of action was entered.  Following entry of the judgment, Defendant moved for an award of attorney feeds in its favor pursuant to MCL 500.3148(2) which provides in relevant party that: “an insurer may be allowed by a court an award of a reasonable sum against a claimant as an attorney’s fee for the insurer’s attorney in defense against a claim that was in some respect fraudulent or so excessive as to have no reasonable foundation.” 

The trial court ultimately concluded that the Defendant was entitled to attorney fees because Plaintiff’s claim for attendant care and replacement services was in some respect fraudulent given the video surveillance and testimony of the friend that she did not provide services on several of the claimed days.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s decision to impose attorney fees because the claimant submitted claims for attendant care and replacement services that were both “so excessive as to have no reasonable foundation” and “in some respect fraudulent” as Plaintiff either knowingly or recklessly submitted claims for attendant care and replacement services on days when the care provider admitted that she did not provide such care and services.


[1] Defendant in this case was represented by Garan Lucow Miller, P.C. attorney Caryn Ford on appeal.

 

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REGISTER NOW

 The Troy Breakfast Seminar will take place on Thursday, September 8, 2016, at the
Troy Marriott. This is a complimentary seminar for our clients.  

Click HERE for a seminar agenda.

If you wish to attend please  register with Eileen Carty, at ecarty@garanlucow.com

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SAVE THE DATE

BUCKEYE SEMINAR

The Buckeye Seminar will take place on Thursday, October 13, 2016, at  the Greater Columbus
Convention Center.  Watch Law Fax for registration and further details.  This is a complimentary
seminar for our clients.

 

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BASICS OF MICHIGAN AUTOMOBILE
NO-FAULT INSURANCE LAW COURSE

 Garan Lucow Miller, P.C. is pleased again to offer this in-depth,
educational course to our clients.  It will be taught each Tuesday evening,
from September 27, 2016 through November 22, 2016, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

In an effort to facilitate our clients in the Detroit metro area,
the course will be held at the DoubleTree by Hilton,
located at 42100 Crescent Blvd. Novi, MI 48375.

The cost of the 9 week course is $350.00 per person,
with a discount of $50.00 per person
for more than 2 registrants from the same company.

Click HERE for an agenda.

Please contact Eileen Carty to register at ecarty@garanlucow.com or 248-641-7600.

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CONGRATULATIONS TO EMILY PARTRIDGE

We proudly congratulate Emily Partridge, of our Grand Rapids  office, selected as
one of the Michigan Lawyers Weekly 2016 Women in the Law.

 

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GLM CONTRIBUTES TO THE PINK FUND

Daniel Saylorand Eileen Carty of GLM presented Molly MacDonald, Founder and CEO of The Pink Fund,
a check from proceeds of the sale of the Michigan No-Fault Manual.

The Pink Fund distributes short-term financial aid for basic living expenses on behalf of
breast cancer patients who have lost all or part of their income during active treatment.
You may learn more about The Pink Fund on the inside cover our our manual or at ThePinkFund.org

GLM is proud to donate to such a worthy cause.