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156240 - Home-Owners Ins Co v Richard Jankowski

Home-Owners Insurance Company,

 

Kimberlee Hillock

 

Plaintiff-Appellee,

 

and

 

 

Auto-Owners Insurance Company,

Plaintiff,

(Appeal from Ct of Appeals)

(Ingham – Collette, W.)

 

v

 

 

 

Richard Jankowski and Janet Jankowski,

 

 

 

Defendants-Appellants.

Joel Finnell

Summary

Richard and Janet Jankowski are residents of Michigan who spend winters in Florida. In 2014, they purchased, registered, and insured a new vehicle in Florida. While in Florida, they were involved in a car accident that resulted in serious injuries. Home-Owners Insurance Company, which insured the Jankowskis’ Michigan-registered vehicles, denied their claim for personal protection insurance (PIP) benefits under Michigan’s No-Fault Act, MCL 500.3101 et seq., on the basis that the vehicle involved in the accident was registered in Florida, not Michigan. Pursuant to MCL 500.3113(b), a person is excluded from receiving PIP benefits if, at the time of the accident, that person “was the owner or registrant of a motor vehicle or motorcycle involved in the accident with respect to which the security required by section 3101 . . . was not in effect.” Home-Owners filed this declaratory action. The trial court granted partial summary disposition to Home-Owners, ruling that Richard Jankowski could not recover PIP benefits because he was an owner of the vehicle and the vehicle did not carry Michigan no-fault insurance, but also ruling that Janet Jankowski was not excluded from PIP benefits because she was not an owner or an “owner by use.” Both parties appealed. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s ruling that Richard Jankowski could not collect PIP benefits for an accident involving a vehicle registered in Florida, but the panel overturned the ruling that Janet Jankowski was eligible for PIP benefits as a non-owner of the vehicle. The panel reasoned that MCL 500.3113(b) plainly precludes a vehicle’s owner from collecting PIP benefits if the vehicle was not covered under a Michigan no-fault policy. The Supreme Court has ordered oral argument on defendants’ application for leave to appeal to address whether eligibility for PIP benefits required registration in Michigan of the vehicle involved in the accident, and whether defendants were obligated to maintain security for the payment of PIP benefits pursuant to MCL 500.3101 or be precluded from receiving such benefits by MCL 500.3113(b). ​