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150834 - Lindita Pirgu v United Services Automobile Ass'n

Lindita Pirgu, Guardian and Conservator of the Estate of Feridon Pirgu, a Legally Incapacitated Person,
 
Richard E. Shaw
 
Plaintiff-Appellant,
 
v
(Appeal from Ct of Appeals)
 
 
(Oakland – McDonald, J.)
 
United Services Automobile Association, d/b/a USAA Insurance Agency, Inc.,
 
Susan Leigh Brown
 
Defendant-Appellee.
 

Summary

​Plaintiff Lindita Pirgu, as guardian and conservator of Feridon Pirgu, obtained a judgment of $70,237.44 for unpaid no-fault personal protection insurance (PIP) benefits and penalty interest. As allowed by MCL 500.3148(1), Pirgu was also granted $23,412.48 in attorney fees against defendant, United Service Automobile Association, due to the defendant’s unreasonable failure to pay PIP benefits.  The attorney fee award was less than the amount that Pirgu had sought, and she appealed to the Court of Appeals, arguing that the trial court applied the wrong legal standard and erred in its calculation of the fees to which she was entitled.  The Court of Appeals affirmed in a split, unpublished opinion, holding that the trial court’s analysis was consistent with Wood v DAIIE, 413 Mich 573 (1982), and that Smith v Khouri, 481 Mich 519 (2008), did not apply.  At issue in the Supreme Court is whether the determination of reasonable attorney fees under MCL 500.3148(1) is governed by Smith v Khouri or Wood v DAIIE, and whether the trial court abused its discretion in calculating the attorney fee award.