United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT STATE FARM'S MOTION FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT (ECF NO. 26) AND DEFENDANT
NATIONWIDE'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (ECF NO.
CARAM STEEH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
David Copeland, claims to have suffered serious injury when
he was crossing the street on foot and was allegedly hit by a
vehicle driven by Defendant Lee Hicks. Hicks was driving a
car owned by his employer, Defendant American Red Cross
(“Red Cross”). In addition to suing the driver
and the Red Cross, Plaintiff has sued three insurance
companies for Michigan personal protection insurance
(“PPI”) benefits. Two of those insurance
companies, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company
(“State Farm”), and Nationwide Mutual Fire
Insurance Company (“Nationwide”), seek summary
judgment on the grounds that Defendant Old Republic Insurance
Company or Old Republic General Insurance Corporation
(“Old Republic”) stands in higher priority than
them. Old Republic, Red Cross, and Hicks do not object to the
dismissal of State Farm or Nationwide, but allege that the
accident alleged never took place, thus any order declaring
Old Republic to be the highest priority insurer or suggesting
they have any liability would be improper. For the reasons
set forth below, State Farm's and Nationwide's
motions for summary judgment shall be GRANTED and they shall
be DISMISSED from this lawsuit.
January 19, 2018, Copeland was a pedestrian in the City of
Detroit crossing the North Lodge Service Drive near the
intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Copeland
alleges that Hicks was driving a 2008 Chevrolet, owned by his
employer, the American Red Cross, and struck him while he was
crossing the street. Copeland brought state law tort claims
against Hicks and the Red Cross, and claims for PPI benefits
against three insurers in Wayne County Circuit Court.
Defendants removed on the basis of Red Cross's federal
charter which confers original jurisdiction over all cases in
which Red Cross is a party pursuant to 36 U.S.C. §
300105. Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint on January
15, 2019. Counts I through III allege negligence claims
against Hicks and the Red Cross. Count IV, V, and VI seeks
PPI benefits against State Farm, Nationwide, and Old
answers to interrogatories, Old Republic admits that it
insured the 2008 Chevrolet owned by the Red Cross and driven
by Hicks on January 19, 2018. (ECF No. 26-2, PageID.437). But
Old Republic denies that the accident took place, relying on
Hick's interrogatory responses that he did not collide
with anyone, but an individual walked in front of his
vehicle, claimed he hurt his arm, took pictures of Hick's
license plate, and ran off. (ECF No. 30-2, PageID.470).
Plaintiff on the other hand has submitted a State of Michigan
Traffic Crash Report from January 19, 2018 which states that
Plaintiff reported that he was struck by the Red Cross van
while he was crossing over the Lodge service drive, that he
was transported to Detroit Receiving Hospital by ambulance,
and lists the accident as a hit and run. (ECF No. 41, PageID
submitted a claim to the Michigan Automobile Insurance
Placement Facility (“MAIPF”), including an
affidavit stating that he did not have automotive insurance,
and his claim was assigned to Nationwide.
before the court are State Farm and Nationwide's motions
for summary judgment on the ground that as the insurer of the
vehicle allegedly involved in the accident, Old Republic, has
higher priority than either of them. Plaintiff stipulated to
the dismissal of State Farm as long as Old Republic
stipulated that it was the insurer of highest priority. (ECF
No. 29, PageID.450). Old Republic would not so stipulate
because it claims the incident never took place; thus, it
faces no liability. Similarly, Plaintiff requests that this
court deem Old Republic the highest priority insurer if the
court grants Nationwide's motion for summary judgment.
(ECF No. 41, PageID.767).
Standard of Law
Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c) empowers the court to render
summary judgment "forthwith if the pleadings,
depositions, answers to interrogatories and admissions on
file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there
is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the
moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law." See Redding v. St. Eward, 241 F.3d 530,
532 (6th Cir. 2001). The Supreme Court has affirmed the
court's use of summary judgment as an integral part of
the fair and efficient administration of justice. The
procedure is not a disfavored procedural shortcut.
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 327 (1986);
see also Cox v. Kentucky Dep't of Transp., 53
F.3d 146, 149 (6th Cir. 1995).
standard for determining whether summary judgment is
appropriate is "'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.'" Amway Distributors Benefits
Ass'n v. Northfield Ins. Co., 323 F.3d 386, 390 (6th
Cir. 2003) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 251-52 (1986)). The evidence and all reasonable
inferences must be construed in the light most favorable to
the non-moving party. Tolan v. Cotton, 572 U.S. 650,
660 (2014); Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith
Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). "[T]he mere
existence of some alleged factual dispute between
the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported
motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be
no genuine issue of material fact."
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242,
247-48 (1986) (emphasis in original); see also National
Satellite Sports, Inc. v. Eliadis, Inc., 253 F.3d 900,
907 (6th Cir. 2001).
movant establishes by use of the material specified in Rule
56(c) that there is no genuine issue of material fact and
that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, the
opposing party must come forward with "specific facts
showing that there is a genuine issue for trial."
First Nat'l Bank v. Cities Serv. Co., 391 U.S.
253, 270 (1968); see also McLean v. 988011 Ontario,
Ltd., 224 F.3d 797, 800 (6th Cir. 2000). Mere
allegations or denials in the non-movant's pleadings will
not meet this burden, nor will a mere scintilla of evidence
supporting the non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S.
at 248, 252. Rather, there must be evidence on which a jury
could reasonably find for the non-movant. McLean,
224 F.3d at 800 (citing Anderson, 477 U.S.
person whose injuries arise out of the ownership or operation
of a motor vehicle are entitled to PPI benefits. MCL §
500.3105(1). Michigan's no-fault laws establish priority
for determining which insurer is responsible for the payment
of benefits where multiple insurers are involved. First, the
injured person must seek no-fault benefits from his or her
own no-fault insurer or the insurer of his or her spouse or
resident relative pursuant to MCL § 500.3114(1). Here,
no such no-fault benefits are available as Copeland does not
have insurance coverage from a policy of his own, a spouse,
or a resident relative. Thus, the court turns to MCL §
500.3115, as it existed at ...