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Court of Appeals reverses trial judge; grants summary disposition to insurer disputing operation of motor vehicle

Andrew Faison and James Stewart sued the Hartford Insurance Company arguing that they were entitled to PIP benefits after a December, 2010, car accident.  Faison, owned the involved car, which he had insured in Maryland.  In September he had asked the insurer to change his mailing address, and he testified that he had been traveling in and out of the State of Michigan during that fall.  He provided documentation that he remained a resident of Maryland at the time of his injuries.

The insurer argued that during the period September to December, he must have operated his vehicle in Michigan for more than 30 days and therefore he was obligated to convert his Maryland policy to a Michigan policy in order to be eligible for PIP coverage.  The trial judge ruled that no one was entitled to summary disposition because the case boiled down to an issue of credibility:  if the jury accepted Faison's testimony that he did not spend an aggregate of 30 days in the state, he could collect PIP benefits; if the jury concluded he had spent 30 days in the state, he would be denied benefits.

Hartford appealed, and shockingly, the Court of Appeals reversed the trial judge.  The decision was shocking because the higher court held that his testimony that he did not spend 30 days in the state was deemed inadequate to create a question of fact.  In a startling holding, the judges ruled that he needed "documentary evidence beyond the statements in his deposition" in order to create a question of fact regarding his presence during September-December.

Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
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