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A Better Partnership
May 07, 2015

COA: Michigan’s No Fault Act does not allow out-of-state residents to sue in tort for economic damages outside of those provided for by personal protection benefits

In Diallo v. Estate of Wrozek, No. 319680, the Court of Appeals held that Michigan’s No Fault Act does not allow out-of-state residents to sue in tort for economic damages if those damages are not provided for through personal protection insurance benefits. 
 
Plaintiff Diallo is a Georgia resident. Diallo’s employee was driving a semi-truck southbound on a highway in Allegan County, Michigan.  Wrozek was driving his vehicle the wrong way on the same highway and struck the truck head on, killing Wrozek. Wrozek was a Michigan resident and State Farm Insurance Company carried Wrozek’s vehicle insurance. Diallo filed a claim for economic losses arising out of lost profits from his damaged truck, which State Farm denied. Diallo then filed a complaint for tort in trial court against State Farm and Wrozek's estate alleging that State Farm was obligated to pay economic damages resulting from Diallo’s lost profits. The trial court granted State Farm’s motion for summary disposition. The primary issue on appeal was whether an exception applies that allows Diallo to sue State Farm in tort for his economic losses resulting from collision damage to a motor vehicle or lost income attributable to the damaged vehicle.
 
According to MCL 500.3135(d), tort liability is abolished except as to damages for economic loss by a nonresident in excess of the personal protection insurance benefits provided under MCL 500.3163(4). Diallo argued that, because he is not seeking personal protection benefits and instead economic damages from lost profits, MCL 500.3135(d)’s exception to the Act’s abolition of tort-liability applies. State Farm argued that Diallo had no cause of action because the exception does not pertain to lost profits arising out of damage to a motor vehicle.
 
The Court of Appeals held that the No Fault Act’s tort exception does not provide Diallo with a cause of action. The court interpreted MCL 500.3135(d) and concluded that under the last antecedent rule of statutory construction, the section only applies to economic damages in excess of personal protection benefits provided to the nonresident. Because Diallo was never provided with personal protection benefits, it is impossible for him to be entitled to pursue economic damages in excess of the limits established under MCL 500.3163(4). Therefore, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s order granting State Farm’s motion for summary disposition.

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