Three insurers argue over deceased girl's domicile for payment of PIP benefits
Sarah Campanelli died in a Michigan motor vehicle collision in 2007. She had grown up with her father in Tennessee, however, earlier in 2007 she had moved to Michigan to be nearer to her mother. Her father testified that he allowed the move for various reasons, but that it was not permanent. Other family members provided contradictory or inconsistent testimony about Sarah's intentions. As a minor, she was not able to choose her domicile at the time of her death.The lower court had held that the Automobile Club was legally responsible for PIP benefits as the insurer responsible for Sarah if she was a Michigan resident. Allstate had previously been dismissed, and the Auto Club appealed, arguing that State Farm should owe the benefits.
The Court of Appeals returned the action to the trial court, noting that it was not within the trial court's power to weigh credibility of family members and make a decision with regard to domicile. Even though the "facts" were agreed upon, it was for the jury to weigh these facts, and the credibility of various witnesses, in ultimately determining Sarah's domicile.