United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT’S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO
FILE AMENDED AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSES AND DENYING
DEFENDANT’S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
TERRENCE G. BERG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Jennesse Massengale went to a chiropractor after getting in
an auto accident, she assigned her insurance rights to
recover the costs of treatment to the chiropractor. Later the
chiropractor sued the insurance company to recover the costs
of treatment, but the insurance company won the case, the
jury finding no injury. Massengale also brought suit against
the insurance company to recover many other costs, and the
insurance company is now seeking summary judgment in its
favor based on the fact that it won the previous case.
the Court then is Defendant State Farm Mutual Automobile
Insurance Company (“State Farm”)’s motion
for summary judgment, ECF No. 10, and motion for leave to
file first amended notice of affirmative defenses pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2), ECF No. 11. Plaintiff Jennese
Massengale has responded to both. See ECF No. 17;
ECF No. 15. State Farm argues that summary judgment is
warranted because it prevailed by obtaining a jury verdict
and judgment of “no cause of action” in a prior
action brought by Plaintiff’s assignee, nonparty Spine
Rehab, PLLC. State Farm argues that the prior court’s
decision bars Plaintiff’s claims in the instant case
under the doctrines of res judicata and collateral estoppel.
Somewhat alternatively, Defendant moves for leave to file
amended affirmative defenses in the event that summary
judgment is not granted. For the reasons stated herein, the
Court will GRANT Defendant’s motion
for leave to file first amended notice of affirmative
defenses but DENY Defendant’s motion
for summary judgment.
March 3, 2017, Plaintiff’s “entire right side,
right knee, right shoulder, back, neck and head”
suffered injuries when she was riding as a passenger in a
2017 Ford Fusion owned and driven by Anita Touchstone and the
car was rear-ended by a 2005 Chevy, driven by Ana
Trejo-Sandoval. Plaintiff’s Answers to
Defendant’s First Interrogatories, ECF No. 17-5,
PageID.479. Defendant asserts the Ford Fusion was merely
“bumped, ” and sustained “very minor damage
to the rear.” ECF No. 10, PageID.75. Plaintiff contests
this, saying that even though the damage did not look
extensive, Touchstone had to replace the entire rear end of
the car. ECF No. 17, PageID.405–06; ECF No. 17-6
(photos of car damage). Touchstone’s Ford Fusion had
insurance through Defendant State Farm. ECF No. 10,
the accident, Plaintiff received treatment from many
healthcare providers, including Spine Rehab, PLLC, a facility
that provides chiropractic services. See ECF No.
17-5, PageID.480–81 (answer to interrogatory no. 6,
listing every health provider). When she obtained treatment
from Spine Rehab, Plaintiff signed papers assigning to Spine
Rehab her statutory rights to collect no-fault personal
injury protection (“no-fault PIP”) benefits for
the services she received for that treatment. ECF No. 10,
PageID.76; Spine Rehab Assignment, ECF No. 10-7.
February 6, 2018, Plaintiff filed a lawsuit against State
Farm and Trejo-Sandoval in state court. ECF No. 1-2. Her
lawsuit included claims for negligence against
Trejo-Sandoval and claims seeking no-fault PIP benefits
and underinsured motorist (“UIM”) benefits from
State Farm through Touchstone’s policy with State Farm.
It also included a claim under the Medicare Secondary Payer
Act (42 U.S.C. § 1395y), a federal question. ECF No. 10,
PageID.76. State Farm removed the case to this Court. ECF No.
March 13, 2018, Spine Rehab-as an assignee of Plaintiff-filed
a separate lawsuit against State Farm in state court, seeking
to collect payment of no-fault PIP benefits for the
chiropractic services they rendered to Plaintiff from
September to December 2017. ECF No. 10, PageID.76–77.
Spine Rehab’s case against State Farm proceeded to
trial in the 40th Judicial District Court in December 2018
(“Spine Rehab trial”). Transcript, ECF No. 24-3.
Plaintiff was not called as a witness in the Spine Rehab
trial and claims she was not involved in the case at all. ECF
No. 23, PageID.621. Counsel for State Farm represented to the
state court that it attempted to subpoena Plaintiff for the
purposes of appearing in the Spine Rehab trial, but her
counsel at the time refused to honor the subpoena.
Transcript, ECF No. 24-3, PageID.639.
Spine Rebab trial concluded in a judgment of “no cause
of action” in favor of State Farm. ECF No. 10-10,
PageID.151-52. The jury verdict form for the trial, attached
as an exhibit to Defendant’s motion for summary
judgment, shows that in response to the question: “Did
the [sic] Jennese Massengale sustain an accidental bodily
injury?” the jury answered “no.” Jury
Verdict Form, ECF No. 10-9, PageID.148. Because the jury
found that Massengale did not sustain an accidental bodily
injury, the jury did not consider whether her injury arose
out of the ownership, operating, maintenance, or use of a
motor vehicle, or whether allowable expenses were incurred by
Spine Rehab arising out of that injury. Id. The
court’s judgment of “no cause of action”
was entered on January 7, 2019, approximately one week before
Defendant filed its motion for summary judgment and motion
for leave to file amended affirmative defenses asserting that
the Spine Rehab jury verdict and judgment served as res
judicata and collateral estoppel bars to Plaintiff’s
claims against State Farm before this Court. ECF No. 10-9,
PageID.149; ECF No. 10-10, PageID.151-52.
Court held a hearing on Defendant’s motions.
See May 16, 2019 Minute Entry. At the hearing, the
Court directed Defendants to file the transcript of the Spine
Rehab trial with the Court. Id. Defendants complied.
See ECF No. 24-3 (Spine Rehab trial transcript); ECF
Nos. 24-4, 5, 6 (depositions of independent medical experts
that were read into the record at the Spine Rehab trial).
Standards of Review
justice so requires, a court “should freely give
leave” to amend. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). The decision as
to whether justice requires the amendment is within the
district court’s sound discretion. Forman v.
Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962). However, a court may
deny leave to amend for “undue delay in filing, lack of
notice to the opposing party, bad faith by the moving party,
repeated failure to cure deficiencies by previous amendment,
undue prejudice to the opposing party, and futility of the
amendment.” Seals v. General Motors Corp., 546
F.3d 766, 770 (6th Cir. 2008).
Motion for Summary Judgment
argues that Defendant’s motion is a motion to dismiss
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) because
Defendant cites to Wysocki v. International Business
Machine Corporation, 607 F.3d 1102 (6th Cir. 2010) in
its motion for the general proposition that a motion to
dismiss may be converted to a motion for summary judgment
where the court considers matters outside of the pleadings.
See Defendant’s motion for summary judgment,
ECF No. 10, PageID79; Plaintiff’s response to
defendant’s motion for summary judgment, ECF No. 17,
PageID.409. Defendant cites Wysocki before providing
the standard of review for Rule 56. Id. Plaintiff
argues Wysocki supports her position that
Defendant’s motion ...