Supreme Court Amicus Brief Filed in State Farm v. MMRMA Case Considering Whether Police Vehicle Pursuing Speeding Motorcyclist Sufficiently “Involved” In Motor Vehicle Accident to Require Apportionment of Liability Among No-Fault Insurance Carriers

I filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of Oakland County, Macomb County and Wayne County in this case, urging the Supreme Court to grant Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority’s application or, alternatively, to reverse the Court of Appeals.  My brief is attached here:  Supreme Court Amicus Curiae Brief for Oakland, Wayne and Macomb Counties stamped copy.

In State Farm v. MMRMA, Supreme Court Case No. 147752, the Court of Appeals held that a police vehicle pursuing a speeding motorcyclist was sufficiently “involved” in a motor vehicle accident between the motorcyclist and another vehicle, even though the police vehicle was nowhere near in proximity to the motorcyclist when he (or his bike) collided with the other vehicle, insured by State Farm.  This holding resulted in the apportionment of liability between the no-fault insurance carrier for the county and the insurer of the vehicle.  Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority (MMRMA) filed an application for leave to appeal the Court of Appeal’s decision.

Technically, this case is a pure insurance coverage dispute between two no-fault automobile insurance carriers.  Since motorcycles are not covered “vehicles” under Michigan’s No-Fault Act (and motorcyclists are not obligated to carry no-fault coverage), when a motorcyclist suffers injury in a motor vehicle accident, the no-fault act contains a provision “prioritizing” which no-fault insurers are to be “on the risk”.  MCL 500.3114(5)(a).  Subsection 6 provides if “2 or more” vehicles are involved in the [motor vehicle] accident” the insurers in the same order of priority shall apportion liability among themselves.

There is much debate about this provision and the “scope” of its meaning in terms of which vehicles are, or, are not, “involved in” the motor vehicle accident.  Several prior cases from the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals interpreting other provisions of the no-fault act appear to give an “expansive” interpretation of the phrase “involved in”, which results in apportionment of coverage responsibility among multiple insurers.

Governmental entities are affected by this case because they are also responsible to provide the security (insurance) required by the no-fault act for the day-to-day operations involving government owned vehicles.  In addition to being contrary to the plain language of the statutory provision, the Court of Appeals decision makes no mention of the effect its ruling has upon government operations and the fiscal consequences of imposing liability under circumstances in which the government is performing an essential function – in this case, the law enforcement function.  There are two other applications pending in the Supreme Court requesting the Court to consider this same provision and the “scope” and meaning of the phrase “involved in” when “motor vehicles” are ostensibly involved in an accident in which a motorcyclist suffers injury.  I previously wrote about this case, as well as the other two.

Police Vehicle Pursuing Fleeing Motorcyclist “Involved In” Motorcyclist’s Accident With Another Motor Vehicle Triggering Insurance Coverage Obligation on the Part of the Governmental Entity

See also:  Braverman ex rel Smutski v. Auto-Owners Ins. Co., et al and DMC v. Progressive, et al.

For more information about this and other similar cases contact Carson J. Tucker, Chair of the Appeals and Legal Research Group at Lacey & Jones, LLP, a Birmingham law firm serving clients since 1912.  Mr. Tucker can be reached at (248) 283-0763.

For more information about Lacey & Jones, click on the following practice area company pages on Linked In.

Lacey & Jones, LLP’s Appeals and Legal Research Group

Lacey & Jones, LLP’s Insurance Coverage and Recovery Group

Lacey & Jones, LLP’s Civil Litigation Group

About cjtucker06

Owner of law firm since July 2014; Handles all types of appellate matters and assists other lawyers with complex litigation and insurance coverage issues; Admitted to the Supreme Court of the United States, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and the State Bar of Michigan; Expertise in prosecuting and defending appeals with several significant successes in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Michigan Supreme Court and the Michigan Court of Appeals; Author of briefs amicus curiae in the Michigan Supreme Court for the Michigan Defense Trial Counsel and the Insurance Institute of Michigan; Represents Insurance Companies, Major International Business, Governmental Entities, Law Enforcement Officers and County Sheriffs. Board of Directors, Michigan Defense Trial Counsel Amicus Committee Co-Chair, Michigan Defense Trial Counsel Military - Retired Major in the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps of the United States Army, Brigade Judge Advocate and Staff JAG officer for the Maneuver Training Center, Camp Grayling, Michigan; Recipient of the Army's Meritorious Service Medal (the highest medal of honor available to Soldiers serving in non-combat roles); 2012 Graduate of the Judge Advocate Officer Advanced Course, at The Judge Advocate Legal Center and School, Charlottesville, Virginia. United States Navy Reserves, Combat Warfare Qualification, January 1989 to July 2003 Former law clerk to Justice Stephen J. Markman, Michigan Supreme Court, Research Attorney, Michigan Court of Appeals. Insurance Coverage Associate Plunkett Cooney; Environmental Law Attorney at Squire Sanders, now Squire Patton Boggs; Master's Degree in Environmental Law; Environmental Law Scholar, ALI/ABA Washington, D.C., Juris Doctorate, Vermont Law School, Environmental Editor, Vermont Law Review; Treasurer and Finalist, Moot Court Advisory Board.
Gallery | This entry was posted in Automobile Insurance Claims, County Sheriffs, Governmental Immunity, Insurance and Indemnity, Law Enforcement Issues, May It Please the Court, Michigan Court of Appeals Published Opinions, Michigan Court of Appeals Unpublished Opinions, Michigan No-Fault Insurance, Michigan Supreme Court Opinions, Michigan Supreme Court Orders, No-Fault Law, Recent Judicial Dispositions and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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