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Court majority reverses judgment for health care provider; dismisses claim.

In Affiliated Medical of Dearborn v. Liberty Mutual, the defendant insurer refused to pay No Fault PIP benefits after the plaintiff performed five MRIs on an accident victim who was insured with Liberty Mutual.  AMD sued for the $20,000.00 it was owed and for costs and fees allowed by statute.  Liberty Mutual lost, and a judgment for $38,000.00 was entered against it; it then appealed, arguing that since the original claim was for less than $25,000.00, the Circuit Court lacked subject matter jurisdiction. 

A majority of the court relied upon a recent decision of the Supreme Court in holding that the jurisdictional amount of the claim should be calculated without reference to statutory fees and costs owed by the insurer.  Judge Peter O'Connell dissented, pointing out that since the No Fault statute expressly provides for payment of fees and costs, and since the total recovery clearly exceeded the statutory jurisdiction of the Court, the case should not be dismissed.

This case confirms the mess the high court created several months ago, when it threw out a victim's District Court judgment of $25,000.00.  The high court ruled in that case that even though the victim limited his claim to the jurisdictional maximum of the Court, the "amount in controversy" exceeded the District Court maximum and therefore the District Court lacked jurisdiction.  As the dissenting judges noted at the time, the Court's pro-insurance bias and outcome has created needless confusion, delay, expense and uncertainty whenever disputes involve an amount having approximately the District Court/Circuit Court threshold.

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