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A Better Partnership
September 28, 2015

MSC to address whether driving an uninsured vehicle in husband’s name is an “owner” under no-fault

In Tamika Harrell v. Titan Indemnity Co., No. 151134, the Michigan Supreme Court scheduled oral argument to consider whether to grant the defendant’s application for leave to appeal. The Court directed the parties to file supplemental briefs to address whether the plaintiff is an “owner” under Michigan’s no-fault automobile insurance act, MCL 500.3101 et seq.
 
The plaintiff was rear-ended, injuring her neck and back, while driving an uninsured vehicle titled in her husband’s name. She filed an action for first-party personal injury and protection under the No-Fault Act. The Michigan Assigned Claims facility assigned the plaintiff’s claim to Titan Indemnity Company, who subsequently denied the request on the basis that the plaintiff was an uninsured owner of the vehicle.
 
The plaintiff brought an action against the defendant for improperly determining the she owned the vehicle. The plaintiff claimed that she could only use the vehicle with her husband’s permission and only did so “periodically.” The defendant moved for summary disposition, arguing that the plaintiff owned the vehicle as a person who had the use of it for more than 30 days under MCL 500.310(2)(k)(i). The trial court denied the motion. Following a bench trial, the court concluded that the plaintiff was not an owner under MCL 500.3101(2)(k)(i). The case was dismissed in the plaintiff’s favor and the order incorporated an arbitration award. The defendant appealed. The Court of Appeals held that the trial court did not err in finding the plaintiff’s use of the vehicle failed to comport with concepts of ownership.

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