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150332 - Alan Jesperson v Auto Club Ins Ass'n

Alan Jesperson,
Mark Granzotto
(Appeal from Ct of Appeals)
(Macomb – Switalski, M.)
Auto Club Insurance Association,
Drew W. Broaddus


     MCL 500.3145, which is part of Michigan’s no-fault act, sets forth both a statute of limitations and a one-year back rule for recovery of benefits.  Subsection (1) states that an action for recovery of personal protection insurance benefits “may not be commenced later than 1 year after the date of the accident causing the injury unless written notice of injury as provided herein has been given to the insurer within 1 year after the accident” or “unless the insurer has previously made a payment of personal protection insurance benefits for the injury.”  The statute continues to explain that, if notice has been given or a payment has been made, “the action may be commenced at any time within 1 year after the most recent allowable expense, work loss or survivor’s loss has been incurred.  However, the claimant may not recover benefits for any portion of the loss incurred more than 1 year before the date on which the action was commenced.” 


     In this case, plaintiff Alan Jesperson was injured in an automobile accident on May 12, 2009.  Defendant ACIA was provided notice nearly 13 months later, and paid Jesperson $21,712 in July, 2010.  On May 16, 2011, Jesperson sued ACIA for additional benefits.  ACIA filed an answer that referenced MCL 500.3145(1)’s one-year back rule, and later filed a motion for summary disposition on statute of limitations grounds.  The trial court granted the motion, and the Court of Appeals affirmed in a split, published opinion.  On April 1, 2015, the Court granted leave to appeal, directing the parties to address:  (1) whether ACIA adequately raised the affirmative defense of the one-year statute of limitations stated in MCL 500.3145(1) in its answer to Jesperson’s amended complaint; (2) if not, whether the Court of Appeals erred in rejecting Jesperson’s argument that ACIA waived the affirmative defense; and (3) if ACIA did not waive the statute of limitations defense, whether its payment of benefits to Jesperson more than one year after the date of the accident satisfied the second exception to the one-year statute of limitations established in the first sentence of § 3145(1).