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Montgomery v. Gore Mutual Insurance Co.

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

August 28, 2019

JAMES MONTGOMERY, Plaintiff,
v.
GORE MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [#12]

          GERSHWIN A. DRAIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Presently before the Court is the Defendant/Counter-Plaintiff Gore Mutual Insurance Company's Motion for Summary Judgment, filed on May 6, 2019. Plaintiff/Counter-Defendant James Montgomery filed a Response on June 9, 2019.[1] Gore Mutual filed a Reply on June 20, 2019. The parties have also filed supplemental briefs. A hearing on this matter was held on August 16, 2019. For the reasons that follow, the Court will deny Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment.

         II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         The instant action stems from an automobile accident occurring in Flint, Michigan on January 16, 2008. Montgomery, a Michigan resident, was the front seat passenger of a 1992 Pontiac van operated by Faith Hurst of Windsor, Ontario and insured by Gore Mutual. Plaintiff suffered serious injuries, including neck, back and traumatic brain injury, vestibular dysfunction, depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.

         Plaintiff did not own a vehicle with insurance on the date of the accident, therefore he made a claim through Hurst's policy. Gore Mutual has filed a written certification with the State of Michigan that all auto insurance policies that it sold would be subject to the Michigan No-Fault Act. Gore Mutual gave Montgomery the option of selecting Michigan or Ontario coverage. On March 4, 2008, Montgomery selected Michigan coverage under the No-Fault Act.

         Gore Mutual stopped making benefits payments on January 30, 2018. As of that date, Gore Mutual had paid a total of $984, 776.91 in benefits to or on behalf of Montgomery. Montgomery filed the instant action on January 14, 2019 seeking to recover PIP benefits incurred after January 30, 2018.

         III. LAW & ANALYSIS

         A. Standard of Review

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) “directs that summary judgment shall be granted if there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” Cehrs v. Ne. Ohio Alzheimer's Research Ctr., 155 F.3d 775, 779 (6th Cir. 1998) (quotations omitted). The court must view the facts, and draw reasonable inferences from those facts, in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). No. genuine dispute of material fact exists where the record “taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party.” Matsushita Elec. Indus., Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986). Ultimately, the court evaluates “whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251-52, 106 S.Ct. 2505.

         B. Mich. Comp. Laws § 500.3163

         Defendant argues that an out-of-state insurer is only liable for up to $500, 000.00 in personal and property protection (PIP) benefits for accidental bodily injury arising out of an accident involving the out-of-state insurer's nonresident insured under Mich. Comp. Laws § 500.3163(4). Plaintiff counters that the statutory cap set forth in subsection (4) applies only to nonresident claimants, not Michigan residents. Therefore, because Plaintiff is a Michigan resident, the statutory cap set forth in Mich. Comp. Laws § 500.3163(4) is inapplicable to Plaintiff's claim for PIP benefits.

         The primary goal of statutory interpretation is to ascertain and give effect to the intent of the Legislature in enacting a provision. Douglas v. Allstate Ins. Co., 492 Mich. 241, 255-56; 821 N.W.2d 472 (2012). “The first criterion in determining intent is the language of the statute.” Tevis v. Amex. Assur. Co., 283 Mich.App. 76, 81; 770 N.W.2d 16 (Mich. Ct. App. 2009). “If the statutory language is clear and unambiguous, judicial construction is neither required nor permitted, and courts must apply the statute as written.” Id. If reasonable minds could disagree as to the meaning of the statute, “judicial construction is appropriate.” Id. It is only appropriate for the court to look to other factors to determine intent when the statutory language is ambiguous. Id. “A liberal construction in favor of the public and the policyholders is preferred when the statute involved is an insurance law.” Id.

         Defendant maintains that the plain language of the statute, Michigan case law, and the legislative history of subsection (4) compels the conclusion that an out-of-state insurer is only liable for the amount of ultimate loss sustained ...


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