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Morrissette, et al v Indian Harbor Ins Co, et al (COA – UNP 11/17/2022; RB #4509)

Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket #359503; Unpublished
Judges Murray, Cavanagh, and Cameron; Per Curiam
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: Not Applicable; Link to Opinion

One-Year-Notice Rule Limitation [§3145(1)]
Required Content of Notice / Sufficiency of Notice [§3145(1)]

Not Applicable

In this unanimous, unpublished, per curiam decision, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s summary disposition order dismissing Plaintiff Enita Morrissette’s action for unpaid no-fault PIP benefits from Defendant Indian Harbor Insurance Company (“Indian Harbor”). The Court of Appeals held that Morrissette’s claim was barred by MCL 500.3145(1) because she failed to give Indian Harbor notice of her injuries within one year of the accident.

Enita Morrissette was driving for Lyft on January 29, 2019 when her vehicle was rear-ended, causing injuries to her neck and back. Morrissette notified Lyft of the accident and pursued no-fault PIP benefits from her personal insurer, AAA, but a court later determined that AAA was not liable for Morrissette’s benefits because of a business pursuits exclusion in her policy. It was in the course of her litigation with AAA that Morrissette discovered the identity of Lyft’s no-fault insurer, Indian Harbor, and on March 11, 2020, Morrissette notified Indian Harbor of the injuries. After her action against AAA was dismissed, Morrissette filed a lawsuit against Indian Harbor, on July 27, 2020. Indian Harbor moved for summary disposition, arguing that Morrissette’s claim was barred because she did not provide it with notice of her injuries until March 11, 2020, more than one year after the accident. The trial court agreed and granted Indian Harbor’s motion.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s summary disposition order, holding that Morrissette’s claim against Indian Harbor was barred by MCL 500.3145(1). The Court rejected Morrissette’s argument that she complied with the statute by notifying Lyft, Indian Harbor’s insured, of her injuries, and her related argument that “the unusual circumstances of the case warranted the tolling of the statute of limitations because it would defy logic to require that someone who is not privy to the insurance contract in question—the policy between Lyft and defendant—provide notice to an entity of which it is unaware.”

“The trial court found that plaintiff’s timely notice to an improper insurer, AAA, and her employer, Lyft, did not constitute proper notice to defendant for the purposes of MCL 500. 3145(1). While the trial court did not explain why timely notice to AAA did not suffice, it noted that ‘[t]his Court has expressly held that when an action is commenced against one party the § 3145 period of limitation is not tolled as to other potential parties who may not have been named as defendants in the suit.’ Hunt v Citizens Ins Co, 183 Mich App 660, 666; 455 NW2d 384 (1990), citing Taulbee v Mosley, 127 Mich App 45, 47-48, 338 NW2d 547 (1983). The same holds true even when a plaintiff argues a lack of knowledge or difficulty ascertaining the identity of the appropriate insurer. Hunt, 183 Mich App at 666, citing Pendergast, 118 Mich App at 841–843. Thus, we cannot conclude that plaintiff’s action against AAA provided defendant, an unnamed party, with notice of her intention to claim benefits regardless of her alleged difficulty in identifying defendant as the proper insurer.

. . .

Plaintiff failed to allege any unusual circumstances providing a basis to invoke judicial equitable powers as a means to disregard the plain language of MCL 500.3145(1). The trial court correctly noted that plaintiff had not cited any fraud, mutual mistake, or other conduct by defendant that could have induced her action or inaction. Despite plaintiff’s contentions, providing timely notice to an improper party does not equate to the unusual circumstances addressed in Devillers. Devillers, 473 Mich at 590. Plaintiff’s inability to identify defendant as the correct insurer also does not warrant tolling, as the trial court properly noted that this Court has specifically rejected the argument that ‘an exception should be carved from the statute of limitations when, despite diligent efforts, a claimant is unable to ascertain the identity of the responsible insurer.’ Pendergast, 118 Mich App at 840.3 See also Hunt, 183 Mich App at 666 (‘The fact that Hunt, in the exercise of due diligence, could not or did not identify Allstate as the appropriate insurer is not enough to toll the period of limitation as to Allstate.’). Accordingly, there was no basis for the trial court to invoke its equitable power absent a finding of fraud, mutual mistake, or other ‘unusual circumstance.’ Devillers, 473 Mich at 590. See also Senters v Ottawa Savings Bank, FSB, 443 Mich 45, 56; 503 NW2d 639 (1993) (finding that when a statute ‘is applicable to the circumstances and dictates the requirements for relief by one party, equity will not interfere.’).”

Michigan auto accident attorney Stephen Sinas is the lead editor of the appellate case summaries published on this site regarding the Michigan auto insurance law. To learn more about how Stephen Sinas and how the Sinas Dramis Law Firm can help you if you have been injured in a Michigan auto accident, visit

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