Insurer-oriented Supreme Court majority rules head injury-related seizure not a "cause" of subsequent accident
Ian McPherson suffered a neurological disorder as a resulot of injuries sustained in a 2007 car accident. In 2008, while operating a motorcycle, he suffered a seizure caused by that disorder and lost control of his bike. He struck a parked car and severed his spinal cord, rendering him a quadriplegiac. Since McPherson was operating a bike when he became a quad, he was not legally entitled to collect No Fault PIP benefits (a legally parked car was not "involved" in the collision). Therefore, if he were able to recover any medical expense or limited wage loss, it would only be because the 2007 motor vehicle accident was a "significant contributing factor" in the 2008 catastrophic injury.
The matter was placed in suit, and Progressive initially argued that there was no insurance on the bike, therefore rendering McPherson ineligible to collect PIP benefits in any event. Progressive eventually conceded that this argument was false. Nevertheless, it continued to maintain that the seizure disorder from the 2007 accident was not a legally proximate cause of the 2008 collision injuries. The Republican majority threw out McPherson's claim, holding that the relationship between his 2008 injuries and the 2007 seizure/neurological disorder was merely "incidental, fortuitous, or 'but for'." The latter Justices deemed the 2008 catastrophic injury "too remote and too attenuated from the earlier use of a motor vehicle to permit a finding that the causal connection beetween the 2008 injury and the 2007 accident 'is more than incidental...' ". Mr. McPherson's right to no fault medical coverage was reversed. Justice Cavanaugh dissented from the decision.