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Willis v Mich Auto Ins Placement Facility (COA – UNP 11/18/2021; RB #4345)

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Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket #354112; Unpublished
Judges Cavanagh, Shapiro, and Gadola; Per Curiam
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: Not Applicable; Link to Opinion


STATUTORY INDEXING:
Disqualification for Nonresidents [§3113(c)]

TOPICAL INDEXING:
Not Applicable


SUMMARY:
In this unanimous unpublished per curiam decision, the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s summary disposition order dismissing Plaintiff Kimberly Willis’s first-party action against Defendant Michigan Automobile Insurance Placement Facility (“MAIPF”). The Court of Appeals held that a question of fact existed as to whether Willis was an out-of-state resident at the time of the subject collision and whether, therefore, she was barred from receiving no-fault PIP benefits pursuant to MCL 500.3113(c).

In early January 2018, Kimberly Willis moved from Alabama to her mother’s home in Detroit, Michigan because of her mental health struggles. Her mother took her to an inpatient treatment center in Michigan shortly after her arrival, where she stayed for approximately one week. Two days after leaving the inpatient facility, Willis was involved in a motor vehicle collision while driving a vehicle owned by her mother and registered in Alabama. The MAIPF denied Willis’s subsequent application for no-fault PIP benefits, arguing that, because Willis was an out-of-state resident, driving a vehicle neither insured nor registered in Michigan, she was ineligible for PIP benefits pursuant to MCL 500.3113(c). The trial court agreed and granted summary disposition in the MAIPF’s favor.

The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s summary disposition order, holding that a question of fact existed as to whether Willis was an “out-of-state resident” at the time of the crash. The Court observed, preliminarily, that the relevant factors to be considered when determining whether a no-fault claimant was an “out-of-state resident” at the time of a motor vehicle collision include: “the subjective intent of the individual to remain in a particular place (either permanently or for an indefinite period of time), the existence of another place of lodging, where mail is received, where possessions are maintained, and what address is used on a driver’s license.” In this case, the Court noted that, while Willis testified that she was only visiting Michigan, she (1) had moved all her belongings from Alabama to Michigan, (2) closed her business bank account in Alabama before the visit, (3) enrolled her daughter in a Michigan school, (4) purchased a cell phone at a store in Detroit and listed her mother’s address in Detroit as her own, and (5) told her doctors during her inpatient stay before the collision that she had “ ‘moved from Alabama to Michigan.’ ” Based on these facts, the Court of Appeals held that a question of fact existed as to whether Willis was an “out-of-state resident” at the time of the crash.

“Viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to plaintiff as the nonmoving party, there is plainly a factual dispute regarding her residency at the time of the accident. Defendant focuses on Fisher’s testimony that plaintiff was only visiting. But there is substantial evidence indicating that plaintiff had permanently moved from Alabama and intended to reside in Michigan indefinitely. Plaintiff testified that she brought all of her clothes and belongings with her when she moved to Michigan with her daughter. Plaintiff, who was self-employed as a cosmetologist, had also closed her business bank account in Alabama before the move. Once in Michigan, plaintiff took multiple steps indicating an intent to stay there. Before the accident, plaintiff had enrolled her daughter in a Michigan school. And on the day of the accident, plaintiff purchased a cell-phone account at a Detroit cell-phone store, listing Fisher’s Detroit address as her own. In addition, the discharge summary notes from plaintiff’s inpatient stay before the accident stated that plaintiff ‘moved from Alabama to Michigan and was admitted to this facility.’ While there is also evidence in the record suggesting plaintiff did not intend to reside in Michigan indefinitely, reasonable minds could differ on this conclusion and therefore summary disposition was inappropriate.”


Lansing car accident lawyer 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 SinasDramis.com.

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