Sperry L. MEGERIAN, Personal Representative of the Estate of Mari Zimmerman-Thompson, Plaintiff-Appellee,
UNITED SERVICES AUTOMOBILE ASSOCIATION, Defendant-Appellant.
M. McCormack, Chief Justice, David F. Viviano, Chief Justice
Pro Tem, Stephen J. Markman, Brian K. Zahra, Richard H.
Bernstein, Elizabeth T. Clement, Megan K. Cavanagh, Justices.
order of the Court, the application for leave to appeal the
April 18, 2019 judgment of the Court of Appeals is
considered, and it is DENIED, because we are not persuaded
that the question presented should be reviewed by this Court.
respectfully dissent. Mari Zimmerman-Thompson and Christopher
Thompson married in May 2002. They married later in life, and
each owned a separate house before and throughout the
marriage. Maris house was located on Stoneham Road (the
Stoneham house), while Christophers was located on Gleaner
Road several miles away (the Gleaner house). In July 2015,
Christopher was driving a car with Mari as a passenger and he
caused a car accident that killed both of them.
was covered by an automobile insurance policy issued by
defendant. The policy provided that defendant would provide
additional liability coverage on behalf of Christopher beyond
the minimum required by the no-fault act, MCL 500.3101 et
seq., but it included the following exclusion:
We do not provide Liability Coverage ... for ... [bodily
injury] to a relative who resides primarily in that covered
the representative of Maris estate, sued defendant for
liability coverage, alleging that Christopher had been
negligent in causing the accident. Because there was no
dispute that Mari was a "relative" of
Christopher--the "covered person"--the issue was
whether Mari "reside[d] primarily in [Christophers]
household." The trial court ruled that there was a
question of fact concerning this issue, and the Court of
Appeals affirmed in a split decision. Megerian v. United
Servs. Auto. Assn, unpublished opinion per curiam of the
Court of Appeals, 2019 WL 1745916, issued April 18, 2019
(Docket No. 336483). For the following alternative reasons, I
believe the Court of Appeals erred.
First, as explained by the Court of Appeals dissent,
"over the past seven or eight years, Mari spent most of
her evenings at
the Gleaner house with Christopher. She seldom left
Christopher to stay overnight alone ...." Id.
at 2 (SWARTZLE, J., dissenting in part). Indeed, the Court of
Appeals majority itself acknowledged that "Mari
apparently spent the majority of her overnights at Gleaner
house ...." Id. at 5 (opinion of the Court).
Furthermore, "[w]hen she did stay at the Stoneham house,
it was with Christopher ...." Id. at 2
(SWARTZLE, J., dissenting in part). Because Mari spent a
majority of her nights at the Gleaner house with Christopher,
I believe that she "primarily" resided in the
Gleaner house with Christopher, even if she is deemed also to
have resided in the Stoneham house. I respectfully disagree
with the Court of Appeals majority in this context that
"primary residence requires more than a bare majority of
time." Id. at 5 (opinion of the Court)
Second, even if Mari resided in both the Gleaner and
the Stoneham houses such that it is impossible to conclude as
a matter of law that she "primarily" resided in the
Gleaner house, the policy refers to residence in a
"household ," not residence in a
"house. " And Random House Websters
College Dictionary (1997) defines "household"
in relevant part as "the people of a house collectively;
a family including any servants." That is,
"household" is better understood as describing a
unit composed of persons and not a physical location. To
illustrate, if Christopher and Mari had spent six months of
the year in Michigan and six months in Florida, it would not
be understood in common parlance that they had separate
households. Rather, it would be understood that they comprise
a single household unit of husband and wife that persists
notwithstanding any change of locations. Here, even when Mari
stayed at the Stoneham house for an extended period of time,
typically no longer than two weeks, she stayed there
with Christopher. There is no evidence that
Christopher and Mari ever actually "resided" apart.
Accordingly, in my judgment, Mari "reside[d]
primarily" in Christophers "household,"
regardless of the physical location of Christophers
these reasons, I believe there is no genuine issue of
material fact concerning whether Mari "reside[d]
primarily in [Christophers] household" for purposes of
the policy exclusion. As a result, I would reverse the
judgment of the Court of Appeals and remand to ...