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Cooper v Carmona (COA – UNP 2/14/2019; RB #3845)


Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket # 342298; Unpublished
Judges Krause, Markey, and Swartzle; per Curiam
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: Not Applicable; Link to Opinion 

Objective Manifestation Element of Serious Impairment (McCormick Era: 2010 - Present) [§3135(5)**]
Causation Issues [§3135]

Evidentiary Issues

In this unanimous unpublished per curiam opinion, summary disposition for the defendant was reversed on the issue of serious impairment of bodily function because a question of fact existed as to whether the plaintiff presented an objective manifestation of an impairment of bodily function under the McCormick standard. 

Plaintiff was involved in a minor accident resulting in little to no damage to either his vehicle or the defendant’s.  Following the accident, plaintiff complained of multiple shoulder impairments.  To wit:

An MRA of plaintiff’s left shoulder showed that his ‘anterior labrum is markedly irregular,’ with ‘a cleft . . . traversing the labrum anteriorly.’  Additionally, the ‘antrosuperior labrum appears irregular and there are areas of fraying and separation.’  These objective findings revealed a complex tear of the labrum, fraying of the superior labrum, and supraspinatus tendinosis.  An MRI of plaintiff’s left shoulder revealed supraspinatus tendinosis, mild long head biceps tenosynovitis, and mild subdeltoid bursitis.  MRIs of plaintiff’s lumbar and cervical spine showed straightening of the normal lumbar and cervical spine alignments.

In granting summary disposition for the defendants, the trial court adduced the doctor’s notes on plaintiff’s MRA and the findings of plaintiff’s emergency room doctor, neither of which indicated a causal nexus between the accident and Cooper’s injuries.  The trial court did not, however, consider the testimony of one of plaintiff’s treating physicians, Dr. Jeffrey Carroll, in which Dr. Carroll reiterated his “impression that plaintiff’s injuries were related to his accident,” and therefore not purely degenerative.

The Court of Appeals found that a sufficient question of fact existed as to whether a causal connection existed between plaintiff’s injuries and the accident.  Dr. Carroll’s aforementioned report, although refuted by an independent medical examination, was not appropriately considered by the trial court in its grant of summary disposition.  The Court of Appeals’ opinion reads as follows:

After performing the surgery, Dr. Carroll was left with the impression that plaintiff’s injuries were related to his accident. The medical evidence, and Dr. Carroll’s conclusion from the medical evidence, contradicted defendants’ assertion that the medical evidence showed only degenerative conditions and not any injuries from the accident. As Dr. Carroll stated, “Degenerative conditions can be asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic until a traumatic event like a car accident.” Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to plaintiff as the nonmoving party, we conclude that there was a dispute of fact regarding whether plaintiff suffered an objectively manifested impairment. Therefore, the trial court erred by granting defendants’ motion for summary disposition when it determined that there was no objectively manifested impairment.

The Court thus reversed and remanded for further proceedings.

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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