AutoOwners forced to pay PIP benefits after suicide attempt; failure to acknowledge role in HomeOwners policy is ignored
Bronson Methodist Hospital incurred $53,000.00 in medical expenses to treat April LaFountain after a single-vehicle accident. LaFountain ingested a large quantity of anti-depressants in a suicide attempt on an isolated dirt road. She then decided to move her vehicle to a different location, fell asleep and crashed the car. AutoOwners argued it owed no PIP benefits because LaFountain's injuries (several fractures) were "intentionally incurred." The appellate judges ruled that AutoOwners did not adequately document its objections to the lower court's rulings and refused to overturn the judgment.
AutoOwners also argued that LaFountain was actually insured by HomeOwners Insurance Company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of AutoOwners, and for that reason the judgment should not stand. The judges pointed out that AutoOwners did not raise this issue after its initial Answer. Given its failure to ask the Court to rule on the issue or devise appropriate instructions; given that an AutoOwners adjuster originally managed the PIP claim; and given that the claim was managed with correspondence on letterhead confirming the mutual ownership of the two companies, the court ruled that jurors were not unreasonable in concluding that LaFontaine was insured by AutoOwners.