State Farm forced to pay more than $200,000.00 in overdue rehabilitation benefits
State Farm refused to pay Community Resource Consultants, Inc., of Macomb County, for rehabilitation benefits that CRC provided to 15 different no fault insureds. CRC attempted to work matters out with State Farm, apparently, and did not sue for over a year. Eventually, it secured a verdict for more than $200,000.00, plus another $200,000.00 in fees, costs and sanctions, after which State Farm's attorneys asked the court to reduce the verdict to eliminate all PIP benefits that were more than one year old when CRC filed suit.
The trial court concluded that it was bound by the Engler Majority's re-interpretation of the no fault statute limiting PIP benefits to "one year back" from the date suit is filed. On that basis, it overturned the $400,000.00 judgment it had previously entered, and signed a judgment in State Farm's favor, essentially wiping out the jury verdict. The Court of Appeals noted that the "one year back rule" is an affirmative defense which State Farm was obligated to raise prior to trial. On that basis it reinstituted the jury's verdict including the substantial fees, interest and costs. Apparently, if you want to live by a technicality, you can expect to die by one, as well.