Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket # 340243; Unpublished
Judges Gleicher, Kelly, and Letica; per curiam
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: Not Applicable; Link to Opinion
In this unanimous unpublished per curiam decision, the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s grant of summary disposition for defendant City of Detroit on the issue of whether an injured motorist could assign his statutory right to PIP benefits to plaintiff Northland Radiology, Inc. (“Northland”), despite not having a contract of insurance with defendant.
Robert Allen sustained injuries while traveling on a bus operated by the defendant, and later sought out treatment from Northland. Defendant refused to reimburse Northland for its treatment of Allen, and moved for summary disposition apropos of Covenant. The trial court allowed Northland to amend its complaint after obtaining an assignment of benefits from Allen, but ultimately granted summary disposition for defendant regardless. The court agreed with defendant that contractual rights to PIP benefits can be assigned, but statutory rights to PIP benefits cannot. Since Allen did not have a contract of insurance with the City of Detroit, he therefore could not assign his statutory right to PIP benefits to Northland.
The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s grant, citing the general rule that all causes of action are assignable. Moreover, nothing in the No-Fault Act itself prohibits an injured party “from assigning his statutory right to payment of PIP benefits under the act in the absence of a contractual right.”
Contrary to defendant’s argument, there is nothing in the no-fault act from which we can discern that the Legislature intended to prohibit the injured party from assigning his statutory right to payment of PIP benefits under the act in the absence of a contractual right. Grand Traverse, 176 Mich App at 448 (“[O]ur primary objective must be to give effect to the Legislature’s intent.”). Such a result would not only run contrary to the no-fault act, MCL 500.3143 (prohibiting only assignments of future benefits), but also the general rule under Michigan law that “all legitimate causes of action are assignable,” Grand Traverse, 176 Mich App at 448, and that accrued claims for PIP benefits are freely assignable, Shah, 324 Mich App at 200 (opinion of the Court). Defendant has not shown why an injured party who assigned his or her statutory right for payment of accrued PIP benefits in the absence of a contractual right through an insurance policy warrants a different result under the act. Moreover, allowing an injured party to assign his or her statutory right or claim to recover PIP benefits arguably furthers the purpose of the no-fault act to provide “‘assured, adequate, and prompt reparation for certain economic losses.’” Shah, 324 Mich App at 215 (SHAPIRO, J., concurring in part and dissenting in part), quoting Shavers v Attorney General, 402 Mich 554, 579; 267 NW2d 72 (1978). Thus, we hold that an injured party’s assignment of his or her statutory right or claim to PIP benefits is permissible.
The Court of Appeals thus reversed and remanded for further consideration.