United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR CERTIFICATION OF
STATE LAW ISSUE TO THE MICHIGAN SUPREME COURT [#24] AND
GERSHWIN A. DRAIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
August 28, 2019, this Court entered an Order denying
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment in this PIP
benefits action. In its Motion for Summary Judgment,
Defendant Gore Mutual Insurance Company argued that the $500,
000 statutory cap set forth in Mich. Comp. Laws §
500.3163(4) applies to Plaintiff James Montgomery's claim
for PIP benefits even though he is a Michigan resident. The
Court rejected Defendant's argument and concluded that
the plain and “unambiguous language of Mich. Comp. Laws
§ 500.3163(4) limits PIP benefits owed to an
out-of-state insured to $500, 000.” Thus, the statutory
cap in section 3163(4) is inapplicable to Plaintiff's
claim for PIP benefits because Plaintiff is a Michigan
before the Court is the Defendant's Motion for
Certification of State Law Issue to the Michigan Supreme
Court, filed on August 30, 2019. Plaintiff filed a Response
on September 17, 2019. Upon review of the parties'
submissions, the Court concludes that oral argument will not
aid in the disposition of this matter. Accordingly, the Court
will resolve Defendant's present motion on the briefs and
will cancel the hearing. See E.D. Mich. L.R.
7.1(f)(2). For the reasons that follow, the Court will deny
Defendant's Motion for Certification of State Law Issue
to the Michigan Supreme Court.
LAW & ANALYSIS
to Local Rule 83.40, this Court “may certify an issue
for decision to the highest Court of the State whose law
governs its disposition” when “the issue
certified is an unsettled issue of State law, and the issue
certified will likely control the outcome of the federal
suit, and certification of the issue will not cause undue
delay or prejudice.” E.D. Mich. L.R. 83.40(a).
“The decision whether or not to utilize a certification
procedure lies within the sound discretion of the district
court.” Southfield Educ. Assoc. v. Board of Educ.
of the Southfield Public Schs., 319 F.Supp.3d 898 (2018
(quoting Transamerica Ins. Co. v. Duro Bag Mfg. Co.,
50 F.3d 370, 372 (6th Cir. 1995)). However,
“certification is disfavored when it is sought only
after the district court has entered an adverse
judgment.” State Auto Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co. v.
Hargis, 785 F.3d 189, 194 (6th Cir. 2015). It is well
settled that “the appropriate time for a party to seek
certification of a state-law issue is before, not after, the
district court has resolved the issue.” Id.
decision to pursue certification is most appropriate when the
question is new and state law is unsettled.”
Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). Yet a
district court should “not trouble [its] sister state
courts every time an arguably unsettled question of state law
comes across [its] desk.” Id. When a
reasonably clear and principled course is seen, the district
court may follow it without resort to the certification
procedure. See Pennington v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins.
Co., 553 F.3d 447, 450 (6th Cir. 2009) (“The state
court need not have addressed the exact question, so long as
well-established principles exist to govern a
the issue of whether the statutory cap in Mich. Comp. Laws
§ 500.3163(4) applies to Michigan residents has never
been addressed by the Michigan courts. It is therefore an
issue of first impression in Michigan. However, well
established principles governing statutory interpretation
exist that render certification unwarranted.
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.
the Legislature specifically identified only out-of-state
insureds in the section concerning the statutory cap.
(3) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (4),
if a certification filed under subsection . . . (2) applies
to accidental bodily injury . . . the insurer and its
insureds . . . have the rights and immunities under
this act . . . and claimants have the rights and
benefits of personal and property protection insurance
claimants . . . . (4) If an insurer of an out-of-state
resident is required to provide benefits . . . to that
out-of-state resident . . . the insurer is only liable
for the amount of ultimate loss sustained up to $500, 000.
Mich. Comp. Laws § 500.3163(3)-(4). If the Legislature
intended the statutory cap to apply to Michigan resident
claimants, it would have identified these individuals as it
did in subsection (3).
because this Court followed well-established principles
governing statutory construction in reaching its decision,
“troubl[ing] our sister courts” with this issue
is unwarranted. Pennington, 553 F.3d at 450. This
fact, coupled with Defendant's failure to seek
certification prior to this Court's decision on the
issue, render certification inappropriate. Hargis,
785 F.3d at 194 (noting that the “certification is
disfavored when it is sought only after the district court
has entered an adverse judgment.”).
the other factors this Court must find in order to certify
the issue do not support certification. Plaintiff raised two
arguments in opposition to summary judgment. Plaintiff argued
that the statutory cap in Mich. Comp. Laws § 500.3163(4)
was inapplicable to Michigan residents. Plaintiff also argued
in the alternative that Defendant is estopped from relying on
the statutory cap in section 3163(4) because Defendant
represented to Plaintiff that if he selected coverage under
Michigan's No-Fault Act, it would be
“unlimited.” The Court did not reach the estoppel
issue when it denied Defendant's Motion for Summary
Judgment. As such, even if this Court certified the issue of
whether the $500, 000 cap applies to Michigan residents, this
would not necessarily control the outcome of this ...