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Connyer v. Executive Las Vegas

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

November 28, 2016

DEBORAH CONNYER, Plaintiff,
v.
EXECUTIVE LAS VEGAS, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND ORDERING PLAINTIFF'S COUNSEL TO SHOW CAUSE

          LINDA V. PARKER U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         In this diversity action removed from state court on April 25, 2016, Plaintiff seeks benefits under Michigan's no-fault act for injuries arising from an accident that occurred in Las Vegas, Nevada on August 1, 2012, while Plaintiff was riding in a vehicle presumably owned and operated by Defendant Executive Las Vegas. Presently before the Court is Defendant's motion for summary judgment, filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 on July 18, 2016. (ECF No. 17.) Plaintiff filed a response to the motion on August 8, 2016, although Plaintiff makes no attempt to address therein the arguments raised in Defendant's motion. (ECF No. 18.) The Court finds oral argument unnecessary and therefore disposed of oral argument with respect to Defendant's motion pursuant to Eastern District of Michigan Local Rule 7.1(f) on November 18, 2018. For the reasons that follow, the Court is granting Defendant's summary judgment and ordering Plaintiff's counsel to show cause as to why costs, expenses, and attorneys' fees should not be imposed under 28 U.S.C. § 1927.

         I. Summary Judgment Standard

         Summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 is appropriate “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The central inquiry is “whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52 (1986). After adequate time for discovery and upon motion, Rule 56 mandates summary judgment against a party who fails to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case and on which that party bears the burden of proof at trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).

         The movant has the initial burden of showing “the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.” Id. at 323. Once the movant meets this burden, the “nonmoving party must come forward with specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Matsushita Electric Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). To demonstrate a genuine issue, the nonmoving party must present sufficient evidence upon which a jury could reasonably find for that party; a “scintilla of evidence” is insufficient. See Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 252.

         “A party asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed” must designate specifically the materials in the record supporting the assertion, “including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations, admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). The court must accept as true the non-movant's evidence and draw “all justifiable inferences” in the non-movant's favor. See Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 255.

         II. Factual and Procedural Background

         According to Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, filed in Michigan state court on October 16, 2014, Plaintiff is a Michigan resident who was injured in an automobile accident on August 1, 2012, in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 1, 4, 5, ECF No. 1-2.) Defendant is a transportation company, which provides limousine services in Las Vegas. (Id. ¶ 3, Def.'s Mot., Ex. B, ECF No. 17-3.) Defendant is incorporated in the State of Nevada and has its principal place of business in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Def.'s Resp. to Show Cause Order ¶ 2, ECF No. 8.) Defendant is not a Michigan no-fault insurance carrier. (Def.'s Mot., Ex. C, ECF No. 17-4.) Although not stated in her Amended Complaint, Plaintiff presumably was riding in a vehicle owned and/or operated by Defendant when she was injured in the August 1, 2012 accident.

         Plaintiff alleges a single claim against Defendant for personal protection benefits under Michigan's no-fault act, Mich. Compiled Laws Sections 500.3101-.3179. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 7-15, ECF No. 1-2.) Defendant moves for summary judgment with respect to that claim, arguing that it is not a no-fault carrier, and is not required to secure no-fault coverage, under the no-fault act. (ECF No. 17.) Defendant maintains that Plaintiff's claim against it is, therefore, frivolous. In its motion, Defendant also asks the Court to award as sanctions under Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure its costs and attorney's fees incurred in the preparation of its motion and defense of the lawsuit.

         III. Applicable Law and Analysis

         Section 3101 of Michigan's no-fault act defines the coverage of the act. Mich. Comp. Laws § 500.3101(1). This provision reads:

The owner or registrant of a motor vehicle required to be registered in this state shall maintain security for payment of benefits under personal protection insurance, property protection insurance, and residual liability insurance. Security is only required to be in effect during the period the motor vehicle is driven or moved on a highway. Notwithstanding any other provision in this act, an insurer that has issued an automobile insurance policy on a motor vehicle that is not driven or moved on a highway may allow the insured owner or registrant of the motor vehicle to delete a portion of the coverages under the policy and maintain the comprehensive coverage portion of the policy in effect.

Id. (emphasis added). According to the express language of the statute, only those vehicles required to be registered in the State of Michigan are subject to the requirements of the no-fault act. See Shields v. Gov't Employees Hosp. Ass'n, Inc., 450 F.3d 643, 646 (6th Cir. 2006) (explaining the Michigan's no-fault act “regulates automobile insurance policies purchased by persons with cars registered in Michigan.”). Plaintiff suffered the alleged injuries while riding in a motor vehicle registered in the State of Nevada and insured in that state. Consequently, it did not fall within the class of vehicles covered by section 3101 of the no-fault act.[1] See Covington v. Interstate System, 277 N.W.2d 4, 5 (Mich. App. 1979) (holding that truck driven at time of accident which was neither registered in Michigan, nor required to be registered in Michigan, did not fall within class of vehicles covered by no-fault act).

         Moreover, the proper party defendant in a no-fault action in which the plaintiff seeks property protection benefits arising out of the ownership, maintenance, or use of a motor vehicle is the insurer of the vehicle, not the insured. CSX Transp., Inc. v. Benore, 154 F.Supp.3d 541, 548 (E.D. Mich. 2015) (citing Matti Awdish, Inc. v. Williams, 323 N.W.2d 666, 669 (Mich. Ct. App. 1982)). ...


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