The Michigan Supreme Court is set to finally address the issue of whether and to what extent the “judicially created” “family joyriding exception” is viable in light of the plain language of the No-Fault Act.
Today, the Court issued a grant order in Progressive v. DeYoung to address the issue of (1) whether an immediate family member who knows that he or she has been forbidden to drive a vehicle, and has been named in the no-fault insurance policy applicable to the vehicle as an “excluded driver”, but who nevertheless operates the vehicle and sustains personal injury in an accident while doing so comes with the so-called “family joyriding exception” to MCL 500.3113(a); and (2) if so, whether the “family joyriding exception” should be limited or overruled. Here is the Court’s Order: Progressive v DeYoung et al..
The Court of Appeals followed a string of cases applying the “family joyriding exception”, which essentially “judicially voids” the language of MCL 500.3113(a), which statutorily excludes the payment of no-fault benefits to an injured person if “[t]he person was using a motor vehicle or motorcycle which he or she had taken unlawfully, unless the person reasonably believed that he or she was entitled to take and use the vehicle.” The Court of Appeals opinion is here: Progressive v DeYoung (COA Opinion).
In the instant case, the injured driver was explicitly excluded under the No-Fault policy and did not have permission to use the vehicle from its owner. Nonetheless the Court of Appeals used the judicially contrived exception to thwart the intent, not only of the Legislature, but, in fact, of the contracting parties! This case will have significant implications on the rights and responsibilities of vehicle owners and no-fault insurers.