Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket # 340702; Unpublished
Judges Murray, Gadola, and Tukel; per curiam
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: Not Applicable; Link to Opinion
Assignments of Benefits—Validity and Enforceability
In this unanimous unpublished per curiam decision, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s grant of summary disposition for defendant State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company (State Farm), because plaintiff Insight Institute of Neurosurgery & Neuroscience (Insight) failed to produce evidence that it obtained an assignment of rights from its patient. In seven executed assignments presented in Insight’s response to State Farm’s motion for summary disposition, none listed Insight, specifically, as an assignee, and Insight did not properly preserve its argument that “Insight Institute of Neurosurgery & Neuroscience” was the de facto assumed name of the seven entities listed on the assignments.
Plaintiff Insight provided treatment to an injured motorist, Michael Stone, who was insured by State farm at the time of the accident. Insight subsequently filed suit against State Farm to recover payment for services provided to Stone. While the case was pending at the trial court, the Michigan Supreme Court decided Covenant, prompting State Farm to move for summary disposition. Insight challenged both the retroactive application of the Covenant decision, and requested leave to amend its complaint. State Farm argued in its response to Insight’s request to amend that Stone never actually assigned his rights to Insight—that Insight was not listed in any of the assignments attached to its pleadings, “nor a registered corporation or assumed name of the entities listed.” State Farm also argued that the anti-assignment clause in Stone’s policy prohibited such an assignment to Insight. The trial court granted summary disposition for State Farm, citing Covenant.
The Court of Appeals found that the anti-assignment clause did not, in fact, bar Insight from obtaining an assignment of rights from Stone, but affirmed the trial court’s grant of summary disposition for State Farm nonetheless. There was no evidence that Stone had ever actually assigned his rights to Insight, specifically, “[t]hus, plaintiff lacked standing to amend its complaint on the basis of an assignment.” Insight argued on appeal that it did obtain assignments of rights—that “Insight Institute of Neurosurgery & Neuroscience” was a “de facto assumed name” of all the other entities listed on the executed assignments Insight attached in its response to State Farm’s motion for summary disposition. That issue was not properly preserved for appellate review, however, since it was not raised first at the trial court. The Court’s full reasoning is as follows:
Of the seven assignments attached to its response to defendant’s motion for summary disposition and motion for leave to file an amended complaint, none list plaintiff as an assignee. And, when defendant raised this issue in the trial court, plaintiff introduced no evidence linking itself to the entities listed on the assignments. Instead, plaintiff’s counsel simply stated at the motion hearing: “Defense counsel has been on these cases regardless of the plaintiff’s attorney involved for some time now. We’ve had discussions. He’s taken depositions. He understands, as do I, that the entities that are named in the specific assignments, which we have seven, are all under Dr. Jawad Shah and Insight.” On appeal, plaintiff asserts that Insight Institute of Neurosurgery & Neuroscience was a de facto assumed name of the seven entities listed on the assignments, so this is simply a misnomer that can be easily corrected, but it failed to raise these arguments or request correction in the trial court. See Mouzon v Achievable Visions, 308 Mich App 415, 419; 864 NW2d 606 (2014) (“For an issue to be preserved for appellate review, it must be raised, addressed, and decided by the lower court.”) (quotation marks and citation omitted).