Michigan Supreme Court to reconsider Kreiner no fault "serious impairment" standard?
The Associated Press reported on August 21 that the Michigan Supreme Court has agreed to reconsider a case involving the "life-altering" serious impairment interpretation of the no fault law adopted by Justice Clifford Taylor and the so-called Engler Gang of Four. The latter justices, hand-selected by then-Governor Engler with an eye toward cozying up to the Chamber of Commerce and the insurance industry, adopted a number of lawsuit "reforms," including a re-analysis of the no fault threshold that severely limited when injured car accident victims could sue.
Under Taylor's analysis, a 4-3 majority of the Court re-wrote the legislative "serious impairment" threshold by requiring that injuries be not only an "objectively manifested serious impairment of bodily function" but also requiring that they have a "life-altering" impact on the victim. Rodney McCormick was one of the last victims denied a right to sue (on a 4-3 vote) before Taylor left the Supreme Court bench in 2008. He could not sue even though he suffered a broken ankle requiring two separate surgeries and keeping him out of work for more than a year. When he returned to work, it was with different job duties because his employer did not think he could handle his old job functions, and he has on-going pain and joint degeneration in the affected ankle.
The Supreme Court voted 4-3 last week to give McCormick's case a second hearing--indicating a likelihood that the new Court majority will reconsider the Taylor court's activist re-writing of the legislative "objectively manifested serious impairment of a bodily function" standard. By the normal operation of the Court, the case is likely to be heard during the early winter of 2009-2010.