JESSICA A. DILLON, Plaintiff-Appellee,
STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant-Appellant.
Stephen J. Markman, Chief Justice, Brian K. Zahra, Bridget M.
McCormack, David F. Viviano, Richard H. Bernstein, Kurtis T.
October 11, 2017, the Court heard oral argument on the
application for leave to appeal the May 3, 2016 judgment of
the Court of Appeals. On order of the Court, the application
for leave to appeal is again considered and, pursuant to MCR
7.305(H)(1), in lieu of granting leave to appeal, we VACATE
that part of the Court of Appeals judgment analyzing MCL
500.3145 and concluding that a claimant can satisfy the
statute by merely providing notice of a physical injury.
interpreting statutory language, we begin with the plain
language of the statute. Driver v Naini, 490 Mich.
239, 246-247 (2011). This is because courts must give effect
to the Legislature's intent, and the best indicator of
that intent is a statute's text. Johnson v
Pastoriza, 491 Mich. 417, 436 (2012). When construing
the text, we " 'must give effect to every word,
phrase, and clause in a statute and avoid an interpretation
that renders nugatory or surplusage any part of a
statute.' " Jesperson v Auto Club Ins
Ass'n, 499 Mich. 29, 34 (2016), quoting Hannay v
Dep't of Transp, 497 Mich. 45, 57 (2014). "When
the language is clear and unambiguous, we will apply the
statute as written and judicial construction is not
permitted." Driver, 490 Mich. at 247, citing
Danse Corp v Madison Hts, 466 Mich. 175, 182 (2002).
pertinent part, MCL 500.3145(1) states that "[a]n action
for recovery of personal protection insurance benefits . . .
may not be commenced later than 1 year after the date of the
accident causing the injury unless written notice of injury
as provided herein has been given to the insurer within 1
year after the accident . . . ." The statute later
provides the "herein, " stating that "[t]he
notice shall give the name and address of the claimant and
indicate in ordinary language the name of the person injured
and the time, place and nature of his injury."
interpreting the statute, the Court of Appeals focused on the
words "notice of injury." It reasoned that the
decision to omit the definite article from this phrase
demonstrated that the Legislature did not want to require
notice of a specific injury. For that, the Legislature would
have used the phrase "notice of the injury, " and,
therefore, the Court of Appeals concluded that notice of
general physical injury would suffice. Then, observing that
the statute also provided what the notice must include, the
Court of Appeals turned to the phrase "nature of his
injury." Yet here, too, it saw a reference to something
quite general. As a result, the Court of Appeals concluded
that the phrase "nature of his injury" did not
demand anything more specific from a claimant.
Court of Appeals wrongly interpreted MCL 500.3145(1) by
suggesting that a claimant can satisfy the statute by merely
providing notice that she was physically injured.
This holding ignores the requirement that the notice describe
the "nature of [her] injury." Cf. Tattan v
Detroit, 128 Mich. 650, 650-652 (1901) (holding that a
Detroit City Charter provision requiring written "notice
. . . of such injury, and of the nature thereof, " could
not be satisfied by a notice simply stating that the
plaintiff sustained "personal injuries" because
"[b]eyond the fact that it is an injury to the person, .
. . there is no attempt in this notice to state the nature of
the injury at all"). If the Legislature had intended for
notice of general physical injury to suffice, it would have
stopped at "notice of injury." But the Legislature
required "notice of injury as provided herein, "
and that "herein" includes, "in ordinary
language, " "the name of the person injured and the
time, place and nature of his injury." The phrase
"in ordinary language" indicates that the
Legislature wanted claimants to be able to give notice of
injury without recourse to specialist assistance, while the
phrase "nature of his injury" refers to an
injury's inherent characteristics. See Corley v
Detroit Bd of Ed, 470 Mich. 274, 279 (2004).
together, MCL 500.3145(1) requires only the kind of notice
that an ordinary layperson can provide. A description of
symptoms that are traceable to a diagnosed injury is
sufficient to constitute such notice. The statute does not
require a claimant to provide a precise medical diagnosis, as
this would not constitute "ordinary language." In
the present case, after being involved in a motor vehicle
accident, the claimant provided timely notice of injuries
causing pain to her left shoulder and lower back. Years
later, the claimant sought treatment for an injury to her
left hip that, according to the jury, was caused by the same
accident. Because, as the claimant's doctor pointed out,
the hip injury could have created the lower back pain, her
initial notice can be traced to the eventual injury and was
sufficient for the purposes of MCL 500.3145(1). For this reason,
although we vacate the Court of Appeals analysis of MCL
500.3145, we AFFIRM the Court of Appeals judgment on other
grounds and DENY leave to appeal in all other respects.
 Compare Magness v Frankenmuth Mut
Ins Co, unpublished per curiam opinion of the Court of
Appeals, issued January 19, 2010 (Docket No. 287369), amended
February 5, 2010 (concluding that insufficient notice had
been given when a claimant sought benefits related to a
traumatic brain injury, but had only provided ...