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Brickey v. McCarver

Court of Appeals of Michigan

April 17, 2018

TRACY C BRICKEY and BRANDY BRICKEY, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
VINCENT LAVON MCCARVER and CR MOTORS OF ADRIAN, INC., Defendants-Appellees.

          Lenawee Circuit Court LC No. 16-005615-NI

          Before: Boonstra, P.J., and Beckering and Ronayne Krause, JJ.

          Boonstra, P.J.

         In this third-party no-fault action, plaintiffs appeal by right the trial court's order granting summary disposition in favor of defendants under MCR 2.116(C)(8). We reverse and remand for further proceedings.

         I. PERTINENT FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Plaintiff Tracy Brickey (Tracy) was operating his motorcycle on U.S. 223 when he was struck by a vehicle driven by defendant Vincent McCarver (McCarver). Tracy was severely injured.

         Plaintiffs filed suit against defendants, arguing that (1) McCarver negligently operated a vehicle and caused injury to Tracy, (2) CR Motors was liable for McCarver's negligence under Michigan's owner's liability statute and the doctrine of negligent entrustment, and (3) McCarver's negligence additionally resulted in plaintiff Brandy Brickey's loss of consortium. Defendants answered the complaint and also moved for summary disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(8) and (10). Defendants contended in their motion that the motorcycle Tracy was operating at the time of the accident was uninsured, and that plaintiffs accordingly were precluded from recovery under MCL 500.3135(2)(c). The trial court agreed, relying on Braden v Spencer, 100 Mich.App. 523; 299 N.W.2d 65 (1980), and granted summary disposition in favor of defendants under MCR 2.116(C)(8) (failure to state a claim on which relief may be granted). It subsequently denied plaintiffs' motion for reconsideration. This appeal followed.

          II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         "The trial court's ruling on a motion for summary disposition is reviewed de novo on appeal." ZCD Transp, Inc v State Farm Mut Auto Ins Co, 299 Mich.App. 336, 339; 830 N.W.2d 428 (2012), citing Moser v Detroit, 284 Mich.App. 536, 538; 772 N.W.2d 823 (2009). "A motion brought under subrule (C)(8) tests the legal sufficiency of the complaint solely on the basis of the pleadings." Dalley v Dykema Gossett, 287 Mich.App. 296, 304; 788 N.W.2d 679 (2010), citing Corley v Detroit Bd of Ed, 470 Mich. 274, 277; 681 N.W.2d 342 (2004). Summary disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(8) is appropriately granted if the opposing party has failed to state a claim on which relief can be granted. Id. "When deciding a motion under (C)(8), this Court accepts all well-pleaded factual allegations as true and construes them in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party." Dalley, 287 Mich.App. at 304-305, citing Maiden v Rozwood, 461 Mich. 109, 119; 597 N.W.2d 817 (1999). A motion under MCR 2.116(C)(8) "should be granted only when the claim is so clearly unenforceable as a matter of law that no factual development could possibly justify a right of recovery." Kuhn v Secretary of State, 228 Mich.App. 319, 324; 579 N.W.2d 101 (1998), citing Wade v Dep't of Corrections, 439 Mich. 158, 163; 483 N.W.2d 26 (1992).

         We also review de novo questions of statutory interpretation. McLean v McElhaney, 289 Mich.App. 592, 596; 798 N.W.2d 29 (2010).

         III. ANALYSIS

         Plaintiffs argue that the trial court erred by granting summary disposition in favor of defendants because MCL 500.3135(2)(c), by its plain language, only applies to uninsured "motor vehicles, " as opposed to motorcycles, and therefore does not limit plaintiffs' right to seek damages in tort. We agree.

         "The primary rule of statutory interpretation is that we are to effect the intent of the Legislature." Stanton v City of Battle Creek, 466 Mich. 611, 615; 647 N.W.2d 508 (2002), citing Wickens v Oakwood Healthcare Sys, 465 Mich. 53, 60; 631 N.W.2d 686 (2001). " 'To do so, we begin with the language of the statute, ascertaining the intent that may reasonably be inferred from its language.' " Odom v Wayne Co, 482 Mich. 459, 467; 760 N.W.2d 217 (2008), quoting Lash v Traverse City, 479 Mich. 180, 187; 735 N.W.2d 628 (2007). "Our primary focus" in statutory interpretation "is the language of the statute under review." See People v Harris, 499 Mich. 332, 345; 885 N.W.2d 832 (2016). If the language is unambiguous, the intent of the Legislature is clear and " 'judicial construction is neither necessary nor permitted.' " Odom, 482 Mich. at 467, quoting Lash, 479 Mich. at 187.

         The words of the statute provide the best evidence of legislative intent and the policy choices made by the Legislature. White v City of Ann Arbor, 406 Mich. 554, 562; 281 N.W.2d 283 (1979). Our role as members of the judiciary is not to second-guess those policy decisions or to change the words of a statute in order to reach a different result. In fact, a "clear and unambiguous statute leaves no room for judicial construction or interpretation." Coleman v Gurwin, 443 Mich. 59, 65; 503 N.W.2d 435 (1993). Therefore, we start by examining the words of the statute, which "should be interpreted on the basis of their ordinary meaning and the context within which they are used in the statute." People v Zajaczkowski, 493 ...


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