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Richardson v. Allstate Insurance Co.

Court of Appeals of Michigan

May 28, 2019

STEPHANIE LYNN RICHARDSON, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant-Appellee.

          Wayne Circuit Court LC No. 16-009822-NF

          Before: Murray, C.J., and Jansen and Riordan, JJ.

          Per Curiam.

         Plaintiff appeals as of right the trial court order granting defendant summary disposition, and the trial court order denying plaintiff's motion to "reinstate the case," in this no-fault matter. We reverse the order granting defendant summary disposition, vacate the order denying plaintiff's motion to reinstate, and remand for further proceedings.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On appeal, plaintiff argues that the trial court erred in granting defendant summary disposition, and denying plaintiff's motion to reinstate because plaintiff was not solicited by counsel, and the criminal statutes prohibiting solicitation do not apply. Thus, defendant lacks standing to challenge any solicitation and the trial court erred in granting defendant summary disposition because the criminal statutes at issue prohibiting solicitation, MCL 750.410 and MCL 750.410b, do not apply in this civil matter.

         This matter arises from plaintiff's claims for personal protection insurance (PIP) benefits pursuant to the no-fault act, MCL 500.3101 et seq., for injuries she sustained in a car accident in December 2015. Plaintiff was driving with two others in the vehicle, and stopped at an intersection. A vehicle two cars behind plaintiff was unable to stop, and hit the vehicle directly behind plaintiff's car, which caused that vehicle to hit plaintiff's car, allegedly resulting in her injuries. Later that day, plaintiff went to Oakwood Annapolis Hospital for neck pain and dizziness. After being released from the hospital, plaintiff was referred for medical treatment at Ortho, PC, by her attorney's office, Michigan Accident Associates, PLLC. Plaintiff's claims for PIP benefits then were assigned to defendant through the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan (MACP), and defendant denied plaintiff's claims.

         Defendant filed a motion for summary disposition in the trial court based on improper solicitation of plaintiff by Thomas Quartz, an attorney with Michigan Accident Associates. The motion was based on plaintiff's deposition testimony that Quartz was at her home the day that she was released from the hospital, only days after the accident occurred. The trial court granted defendant summary disposition because plaintiff failed to create a genuine issue of material fact regarding defendant's assertion that she was improperly solicited by her attorney, and the improper solicitation rendered plaintiff's medical treatment unlawful. The trial court later denied plaintiff's motion to reinstate, which was essentially a motion for reconsideration.

         II. ANALYSIS

         This Court reviews a motion for summary disposition de novo. Gorman v American Honda Motor Co, Inc, 302 Mich.App. 113, 115; 839 N.W.2d 223 (2013). A motion for summary disposition brought pursuant to MCR 2.116(C)(10) tests the factual support for a party's claim. Maiden v Rozwood, 461 Mich. 109, 120; 597 N.W.2d 817 (1999). When reviewing a motion brought under this subrule, the court must examine all documentary evidence presented to it, draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party, and determine whether a genuine issue of material fact exists. Dextrom v Wexford Co, 287 Mich.App. 406, 431; 789 N.W.2d 211 (2010). Summary disposition is proper when the evidence fails to establish a genuine issue of material fact, and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. West v Gen Motors Corp, 469 Mich. 177, 183; 665 N.W.2d 468 (2003). "A genuine issue of material fact exists when the record, giving the benefit of reasonable doubt to the opposing party, leaves open an issue upon which reasonable minds might differ." Id.

         Under the no-fault act, an insurer "is liable to pay benefits for accidental bodily injury arising out of the ownership, operation, maintenance or use of a motor vehicle as a motor vehicle . . . ." MCL 500.3105(1). PIP benefits are payable for "[a]llowable expenses consisting of all reasonable charges incurred for reasonably necessary products, services and accommodations for an injured person's care, recovery, or rehabilitation." MCL 500.3107(1)(a).

         As part of the Michigan Penal Code, MCL 750.1 et seq., MCL 750.410b prohibits improper solicitation of motor vehicle accident victims:

(1) A person shall not intentionally contact any individual that the person knows has sustained a personal injury as a direct result of a motor vehicle accident, or an immediate family member of that individual, with a direct solicitation to provide a service until the expiration of 30 days after the date of that motor vehicle ...

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