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Court rejects Auto Club's bid to diminish Conservatorship obligations of PIP carriers

Mark Fullmer was appointed by the Probate Court to serve as a substitute Conservator for Deanna Theresa Cisneros, a woman who suffered a closed head injury in a Michigan motor vehicle collision.  The Conservator billed AAA for Fullmer's expenses, including expenses incurred to assist with real estate and debt disputes as well as legal work provided to secure no fault benefits.   AAA argued that under section 3107 of the no fault act, any expenses incurred by the conservator not related to obtaining medical care should be limited to $20.00 per day for three years.  It did not argue that Cisneros did not need a conservator or that the need was not caused by the motor vehicle collision.

The lower court and the appellate court both agreed that AAA was attempting to read section (c) of 3107 to "trump" section (a), essentially reading section (a) out of the statute.  Section (a) requires payment of all expenses necessary for an injured person's "care, recovery or rehabilitiation," while section (c) limits household service expenses to the limits outlined above.  The Court noted that this situation was unlike the Griffith case relied upon by the insurer:  in Griffith, the Michigan Supreme Court held that the PIP carrier did not become obligated to pay for food for a severely injured person, as the person's need for a "normal" diet was unchanged from prior to the injury.  In this case, the expenses incurred were solely the result of the collision injuries and would not have been incurred, but for the injuries.  It further noted that in several earlier cases, the Courts have not limited "care" of an injured person to "medical care."

Given that Judge Kirsten Kelly--the insurers' best friend on the Court of Appeals--voted with the majority in this case, it would seem that these principles are beyond challenge, however, the Justices nominated to the Supreme Court by the insurance industry and Chamber of Commerce have proved to be a good investment by those entities:  we'll have to wait to see if leave is granted by the Supreme Court to re-evaluate.

Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
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