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Citizens Insurance Company of America v. University Physician Group

Court of Appeals of Michigan

May 23, 2017

CITIZENS INSURANCE COMPANY OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
UNIVERSITY PHYSICIAN GROUP, WILLIAM ERNEST SULLIVAN, HENRY FORD HEALTH SYSTEM, also known as HENRY FORD HOSPITAL, and OAKWOOD HEALTHCARE, INC., also known as OAKWOOD HOSPITAL and OAKWOOD HOSPITAL AND MEDICAL CENTER, Defendants-Appellees, and FEINBERG CONSULTING, INC., Defendant.

         Wayne Circuit Court LC No. 14-004915-NF.

          Before: Stephens, P.J., and Saad and Meter, JJ.

          Stephens, P.J.

         Plaintiff Citizens Insurance Company of America appeals three orders as of right. They are orders granting summary disposition in favor of defendants University Physician Group (UPG), Oakwood Healthcare, Inc. (Oakwood), and Henry Ford Health System (Henry Ford) pursuant to MCR 2.116(C)(7). We affirm.

         I. FACTS

         On August 2, 2009, William Sullivan was injured in an automobile accident while driving an uninsured 1999 Ford F-150 truck that was registered to Leonardo Terriquez-Bernal. Sullivan applied for no-fault insurance benefits with the Michigan Assigned Claims Facility and his claim was assigned to plaintiff. Plaintiff then hired Data Surveys to investigate whether Sullivan was entitled to no-fault benefits. Plaintiff's investigator reported that Sullivan participated in an unsworn interview and made unsworn written statements in which he denied having any personal automobile insurance and claimed to be an occasional permissive user of the vehicle to which he had no keys. He further denied that he and the vehicle's registered owner, Terriquez-Bernal, had any specific agreements about this occasional use, that the vehicle was never garaged at his home, and that he was not responsible for any payments relative to the vehicle. On November 24, 2009, plaintiff determined that Sullivan was entitled to no-fault benefits and extended those benefits to Sullivan.

         On August 8, 2012, plaintiff filed a lawsuit against Terriquez-Bernal for reimbursement. In response to plaintiff's motion for summary disposition in that suit, Terriquez-Bernal submitted an April 16, 2013 affidavit from Sullivan, which stated:

2. I purchased the 1999 Ford F150 when it was new and was the title owner until July, 2008, when I sold the vehicle to Defendant Leonard Terriquez-Bernal ("Defendant") for one dollar.
3. Essentially, I needed to have the vehicle title in Defendant's name.
4. From July, 2008, until August 2, 2009, the date of the accident, I used and possessed the 1999 Ford F150 white truck as if I was the owner.
5. At the time of the accident, I did not have no fault insurance on the 1999 Ford F150 white truck.

         Thereafter, on July 12, 2013, plaintiff deposed Terriquez-Bernal. During the deposition, Terriquez-Bernal stated that he transferred the title and registration of the F-150 into his name as a favor to Sullivan, apparently because Sullivan no longer had a driver's license or the identification required to register the vehicle. Terriquez-Bernal said that he was Sullivan's next-door neighbor when this occurred, and that after transferring the title and registration into his name he never took possession of the vehicle, drove the vehicle, or had the keys to the vehicle. Thus, according to Sullivan's affidavit and Terriquez-Bernal's deposition, Sullivan was the actual owner of the uninsured vehicle involved in the accident. [1] He was therefore never entitled to no-fault benefits.[2]

         On April 15, 2014, plaintiff filed the instant suit against Sullivan and four medical care providers who had treated Sullivan for his accident-related injuries, seeking reimbursement for payments made pursuant to its mistaken belief that Sullivan was entitled to no-fault benefits.[3]Oakwood filed a motion for summary disposition asserting that plaintiff's claims against it were barred by the limitations period set forth in MCL 500.3175(3), which is applicable to actions to enforce rights to indemnity or reimbursement against third parties. Henry Ford filed an essentially identical motion. In response, plaintiff asserted that the limitations period in MCL 500.3175(3) was inapplicable, that the six-year statute of limitations set forth in MCL 600.5813 for "[a]ll other personal actions" applied, and, thus, that the motions should be denied. Plaintiff further asserted that it was entitled to summary disposition under MCR 2.116(I)(2) and 2.116(C)(10) (no genuine issue of material fact).

         After conducting a hearing on the motions, the trial court granted summary disposition for Oakwood and Henry Ford and dismissed plaintiff's complaint against Oakwood and Henry Ford pursuant to MCR 2.116(C)(7) (statute of limitations). Thereafter, UPG filed a motion for summary disposition asserting, as did Oakwood and Henry Ford, that plaintiff's claim against it was barred by the limitation period set forth in MCL ...


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