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No room and board expenses for the severely injured

In Mahle v. Titan Insurance, the Court of Appeals applied a novel definition of "dicta" (at least, it was a definition not used by the activist majority of the Supreme Court when they consider the topic and wish to change the law) to hold that Griffith v. State Farm had the effect of eliminating room and board expenses for at-home care.

Historically, the Court had allowed family members to treat a severely injured car accident victim at home, when it was possible, and allowed them to charge for room and board, just as a long-term care facility would.  The courts had pointed out that this home-care was beneficial to the patient and family, and also good public policy because it was cheaper than paying strangers in an institution.

In Griffith, above, the Engler Majority began whittling away at this public policy by holding that the no fault carrier did not have to reimburse the family for the patient's food costs unless the patient had a limited, special diet.  On this basis, the Titan Insurance company notified Mahle's family in this case that Titan was discontinuing payment of shelter and utility costs incurred to care for their son.  The family defended Titan's actions by noting that Griffith did not address issues of shelter or utility expenses, and therefore the pre-existing law established in Reed v. Citizens should apply.  The trial court agreed.

The Court of Appeals resurrected case law which the activist Engler majority has ignored during the past few years, and which essentially makes considered statements of the highest court binding, whether or not the statements were decisively involved in the prior controversy.  It is a little ironic to see an Engler majority opinion receive such deference, given that the same majority has frequently overruled existing precedent by suggesting that the language it did not like was mere "dicta".

In any event, our state's public policy now favors the institutionalization of seriously injured no fault victims, apparently.  Another "reform" brought to you by activist judges.

Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
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Traverse City, Michigan 49684
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