Circuit Court LC No. 14-088024-NH
Before: Hoekstra, P.J., and Saad and Riordan, JJ.
negligence action premised on owner liability under the
no-fault act, MCL 500.3101 et seq., defendants
appeal the trial court's order that denied
their motion for summary disposition. The trial court, in
denying the motion, found that the front-end loader vehicle
at issue in this case was not exempt from registration and
therefore, was required to be insured under the no-fault act.
But because the front-end loader meets the statutory
requirements of "special mobile equipment, " it was
not required to be registered, and the trial court erred when
it held otherwise. Accordingly, we reverse and remand.
December 12, 2012, defendant Bryce R. Cotanche was operating
a front-end loader to plow snow in the course of his
employment with defendant Boyne USA, Inc. ("Boyne
USA"). The front-end loader was not registered with the
State of Michigan nor insured under a no-fault insurance
policy. To reach his next plow site, Cotanche made a left
turn from a private drive onto Deer Lake Road, a public
highway. He intended to drive on Deer Lake Road for
approximately a quarter of a mile to reach his next site.
Plaintiff Donald Bergman was driving northbound on Deer Lake
Road, and the two vehicles collided.
filed suit against defendants and sought compensation for his
injuries. Plaintiff alleged that defendant Boyne USA was
liable for defendant Cotanche's negligence because it
owned the front-end loader and that Cotanche drove it in the
course of his employment. Plaintiff contended that the
front-end loader was required to be registered and insured
and that the failure to do so entitled plaintiff to a
recovery equal to all personal protection benefits paid or
payable to permit reimbursement of his insurer under MCL
500.3116 in addition to damages otherwise allowed by law.
moved for partial summary disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(8)
(failure to state a claim) and (C)(10) (no genuine issue of
fact) and asserted that the front-end loader was exempt from
registration and the resulting requirement to maintain
no-fault insurance because the vehicle qualified under the
"special mobile equipment" exception of MCL
257.216(c). Plaintiff countered that the front-end loader was
a motor vehicle required to be registered and insured.
Plaintiff argued that the front-end loader was not exempt
under the "special mobile equipment" exception
because, although not designed for use on the highway, it was
not "incidentally operated or moved on the highway"
as required by the exception.
trial court ultimately concluded that the front-end loader
met the first aspect of the test to qualify as "special
mobile equipment" because it was not designed or used
primarily for the transportation of persons or property.
However, the court determined that the second prong was not
satisfied because the travel on the public highway to reach
plow sites was more than incidental. The court therefore
concluded that the "special mobile equipment"
exception did not apply and that the law required the
front-end loader to be registered and insured. The court also
concluded that MCL 257.216(d) provided that special mobile
equipment driven on the highway needed special registration
and that the front-end loader should have been registered and
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Court reviews de novo a trial court's decision on a
summary disposition motion to determine if the moving party
was entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Maiden v
Rozwood, 461 Mich. 109, 118; 597 N.W.2d 817. While the
trial court did not state which court rule it was relying on
when it denied defendant's motion for partial summary
disposition, we will review the motion under MCR 2.116(C)(10)
because it relied on documentation outside the pleadings. See
Innovation Ventures v Liquid Mfg, 499 Mich. 491,
506-507; 885 N.W.2d 861 (2016). A "motion under MCR
2.116(C)(10) tests the factual support for a claim and should
be granted if there is no genuine issue as to any material
fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter
of law." MEEMIC Ins Co v DTE Energy Co, 292
Mich.App. 278, 280; 807 N.W.2d 407. "When reviewing a
motion for summary disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(10), we
consider "affidavits, pleadings, depositions,
admissions, and other documentary evidence submitted by the
parties in the light most favorable to the party opposing the
motion." Greene v A P Prods, Ltd, 475 Mich.
502, 507; 717 N.W.2d 855 (quotation marks and citations
omitted). The motion "is properly granted if the
proffered evidence fails to establish a genuine issue
regarding any material fact and the moving party is entitled
to judgment as a matter of law." Klein v HP Pelzer
Auto Sys, Inc, 306 Mich.App. 67, 75; 854 N.W.2d 521
interpretation and application of a statute in particular
circumstances is a question of law this Court reviews de
novo." Detroit Pub Sch v Conn, 308 Mich.App.
234, 246; 863 N.W.2d 373 (2014).
Michigan's no-fault act, "[t]he 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." MCL 500.3101(1)
(emphasis added). "Security is only required to be in
effect during the period the motor vehicle is driven or moved
on a highway." Id. The Michigan Vehicle Code,
MCL 257.1 et seq., however, exempts certain motor
vehicles from registration with the state. One of those
exceptions is for ...