Michigan Supreme Court holds injured motorist cannot collect benefits from both insurance policies he purchased
Brent Harris paid for medical expense coverage in his no fault PIP policy and also procured Blue Cross coverage for health expenses. The BCBS policy said it would not pay health expenses for any expenses that Harris "did not legally have to pay." The Court of Appeals noted that Harris "incurred" the medical services for a charge and that the providers were not under any statutory duty to provide services free. These three judges therefore concluded that Harris was under a duty to pay for the services and the BCBS language did not preclude Harris from collecting for the expenses from Blue Cross, regardless of whether the no fault carrier paid them.
The Supreme Court ruled that since Harris had the right to insist the no fault carrier pay the expenses, and since he therefore would not be forced to pay the expenses, the BCBS language applied. Since "he did not legally have to pay" the expenses, he couldn't force BCBS to pay them. The result reflects a strong public policy that injured people not recover "duplicative" insurance benefits. The insurance-oriented Justices on Michigan's Supreme Court have extended that policy in such a manner that many motorists who have arranged and paid for duplicate medical may not even recover their own damages if, for example, an ERISA or private health insurer claims a right of reimbursement. This case extends the principle even further: to situations where the "plain language" of the parties' contract appears to provide otherwise. Typically the Republican majority enforces the language of a contract or statute even if application would violate reasonable expectations or common sense, citing the "sanctity of contracts."