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Lekli v Hudson Ins Co (UNP – COA 8/19/2021; RB # 4305)

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Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket #352981; Unpublished
Judges Letica, Servitto, and Kelly; Per Curiam
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: Not Applicable; Link to Opinion


STATUTORY INDEXING:
One-Year Notice Rule Limitation [§3145(1)]

TOPICAL INDEXING:
Not Applicable


SUMMARY:
In this unanimous unpublished per curiam decision, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s summary disposition order dismissing Plaintiff Syrja Lekli’s first-party action against Hudson Insurance Company (“Hudson”). The Court of Appeals held that Lekli’s action was barred by MCL 500.3145(1) because she neither filed her action within one year of the subject collision nor properly notified Hudson of her injuries within one year of the collision

Lekli was involved in a motor vehicle collision while driving a vehicle owned by Pergjoni Transport, LLC and leased to B&W Cartage Company, Inc. There were two insurance policies on the vehicle, one issued by Hudson and the other by Great American Assurance Company (“Great American”), but Lekli never filed a claim with Hudson. Rather, Lekli filed a claim with Great American and with the Michigan Automobile Insurance Placement Facility, who assigned his claim to Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company of Michigan (“Farm Bureau”). In Lekli’s subsequent first-party action against Great American and Farm Bureau, however, it was determined that Hudson, who was not a party to the action, was the highest priority insurer for payment of Lekli’s no-fault PIP benefits. As a result, Lekli did not file his action against Hudson until approximately two-and-a-half years after the subject collision. Therefore, the trial court granted summary disposition in Hudson’s favor, ruling that Lekli failed to comply with MCL 500.3145(1).

The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s summary disposition order, holding that Lekli failed to properly notify Hudson of her injuries and failed to file her lawsuit within one year of the collision. The Court first rejected Lekli’s argument that summary disposition was premature because discovery would have shown that Hudson paid for repairs to the truck that was involved in the collision and the bridge Lekli was driving on at the time of the collision. Such evidence would not have been sufficient for purposes of the notice requirement contained in 3145(1). The Court noted that the statute “requires that the notice of injury must be given to the insurer ‘by a person claiming to be entitled to benefits therefor, or by someone in his behalf,’ ” and that, in this case, there was nothing on the record to suggest that it was Lekli, himself, who submitted the claim for property damage, or that the claim was submitted on Lekli’s behalf. Moreover, even if they were submitted by Lekli or on Lekli’s behalf, there was nothing on the record to suggest that the property damage claims would have put Hudson on notice that Lekli was injured as a result of the collision causing property damage.

Lekli nevertheless argues that summary disposition was premature because discovery was not yet complete. He argues that discovery would show that Hudson Insurance Company “paid for damage claims to the truck and the bridge damaged in the accident.” However, even assuming that discovery would have, in fact, showed Hudson Insurance Company paid claims for property damage arising from the crash, MCL 500.3145(1) requires that the notice of injury must be given to the insurer “by a person claiming to be entitled to benefits therefor, or by someone in his behalf.” There is nothing on the record indicating that the insured who submitted a claim for property damage associated with the accident did it on Lekli’s behalf. Further, under MCL 500.3145(1) the notice “shall give the name and address of the claimant and indicate in ordinary language the name of the person injured and the time, place and nature of his injury.” It could be inferred that Lekli’s name and address and the time and place of his motor vehicle crash were included in the documentation supporting the payment for property damage. It does not also follow that the documentation would indicate that Lekli was injured or the nature of his injury. Thus, because further discovery would be unlikely to uncover factual support for Lekli’s position, summary disposition was not prematurely granted. See Village of Dimondale v Grable, 240 Mich App 553, 566; 618 NW2d 23 (2000).

The Court of Appeals next held that, even though Hudson received a copy of the police report, that alone did not satisfy the notice requirement in MCL 500.3145(1). The report did not list a hospital to which Lekli was transported, nor was the box indicating injury checked.

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