SPERRY L. MEGERIAN, Personal Representative of the ESTATE OF MARI ZIMMERMAN-THOMPSON, Plaintiff-Appellee,
UNITED SERVICES AUTOMOBILE ASSOCIATION, Defendant-Appellant.
Bridget 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,
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.
Markman, J. (dissenting).
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. Mari's house was located on Stoneham Road (the
Stoneham house), while Christopher's 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 Mari's 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 [Christopher's]
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Servs Auto Ass'n, unpublished opinion per curiam of
the Court of Appeals, issued April 18, 2019 (Docket No.
336483). For the following alternative reasons, I believe the
Court of Appeals erred.
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) (emphasis omitted).
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
Webster's 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 Christopher's "household,"
regardless of the physical location of Christopher's
these reasons, I believe there is no genuine issue of
material fact concerning whether Mari "reside[d]
primarily in [Christopher's] household" for purposes
of the policy exclusion. As a result, I would reverse the
judgment of the Court of Appeals and remand to the trial
court for entry of summary disposition in favor of defendant.
J., joins the statement of Markman, J.
Cavanagh, J., not participating due to her prior relationship