Insurer-dominated Supreme Court overturns lower courts' fee award against insurer
This week the Michigan Supreme Court overturned two lower courts' decisions that United Servs. Auto Ass'n should owe attorneys fees for late payment of PIP benefits. The insurer was the PIP insurer of a motor vehicle in which a woman named Rana Rayes was a passenger. During an alcohol-fueled argument with her driver-boyfriend, Rayes opened the car door and jumped from the vehicle. She suffered serious injuries which the insurer initially claimed were intentionally self-inflicted.
Spectrum Health provided care to the woman and was awarded fees when it and Rayes' Conservator, Rimbey, prevailed in the PIP action. The lower courts had held that since the insurer had no evidence to support an intentional infliction of injury defense, the PIP benefits were "unreasonably denied" and attorneys fees were due. In a one paragraph holding, the high Court, dominated by insurance-oriented justices, merely held that no fees were payable because there existed a "legitimate question of factual uncertainty."