Court holds no fault insurer not responsible for medical growing out of infection caused by accident care
In a stunning turnabout that would have shocked the people who composed the Michigan Supreme Court for three decades, this week a Court of Appeals panel held that a Michigan insurer is not responsible for medical expenses incurred in treating a motor vehicle injury. Robert Campbell suffered back injuries in a 2009 collision and ultimately an emergency laminectomy. He began receiving steroid injections into the spinal cord. As did many others, Campbell developed fungal meningitis after receiving an injection that was negligently mixed by the manufacturer. He was forced to sue Home-Owners Insurance Company to pay for his PIP medical expenses.
Home-Owners argued that his infection was a "new" injury not caused by the use of a motor vehicle. Relying on long-standing law that attributes causation of even negligent medical care to the underlying trauma, the judge rejected Auto-Owners' argument. Auto-Owners appealed and drew three of the four most insurance-oriented judges of the Court of Appeals for its panel.
Judges Boonstra, Saad and Murray extended a recent Michigan Supreme Court case to new lengths and reversed the trial judge. These anti-consumer, pro-insurance judges ruled that Campbell's infection--resulting from treatment for a car wreck--was not caused by the use of a motor vehicle. In short, they utilized their judicial "discretion" to take away a jury's right to make the common sense connection between Campbell's injury and his continuing infection-related medical costs.
From 1974 until just a few years ago, such an activist judicial result would have been unthinkable, particularly in the context of the No Fault law. The Courts had held for decades that the latter law was to be "liberally construed" to get medical expenses paid without litigation, costs, lawyers or fees. Now, with a ton of money in the Catastrophic Claims Fund--paid by Michigan motorists in the form of an add-on insurance cost--the judges elected with insurance company support and proclivities are "reinterpreting" the No Fault law to make sure drivers don't get what they paid for. It's a travesty.