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Farm Bureau forced to pay attendant care benefits, despite reimbursement claim

In Cooper v. Farm Bureau, the defendant appealed to the Court of Appeals in a last-ditch effort to avoid paying statutorily-obligated no fault PIP attendant care benefits.  Cooper was badly hurt in a car accident while driving his girlfriend's uninsured vehicle.  Farm Bureau owed Cooper $60,000.00 in attendant care which was provided by the girlfriend, and argued that since the girlfriend could be required to reimburse it for uninsured vehicle no fault expenses, it should not be required to pay Cooper and the girlfriend, but rather should be allowed to simply deduct the reimbursement.

The lower court and the appellate court both rejected Farm Bureau's argument, pointing out that it could not unilaterally withold statutorily-mandated benefits from Cooper because of a debt allegedly owed by his attendant care provider.  In a unanimous opinion, the appellate court suggested that Farm Bureau take its public policy argument up with the Legislature and upheld the fee award against Farm Bureau for unreasonable denial of benefits.

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