Brickey v. McCarver

Decision Date17 April 2018
Docket NumberNo. 337448,337448
Parties Tracy C. BRICKEY and Brandy Brickey, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. Vincent Lavon MCCARVER and CR Motors of Adrian, Inc., Defendants-Appellees.
CourtCourt of Appeal of Michigan — District of US

323 Mich.App. 639
919 N.W.2d 412

Tracy C. BRICKEY and Brandy Brickey, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
Vincent Lavon MCCARVER and CR Motors of Adrian, Inc., Defendants-Appellees.

No. 337448

Court of Appeals of Michigan.

Submitted April 10, 2018, at Detroit.
Decided April 17, 2018, at 9:10 a.m.


Barbara H. Goldman for plaintiffs.

Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker (by John T. Eads, III, and Carol A. Smith ) for defendants.

Before: Boonstra, P.J., and Beckering and Ronayne Krause, JJ.

Boonstra, P.J.

919 N.W.2d 413
323 Mich.App. 640

In this third-party no-fault action, plaintiffs appeal by right the trial court's order granting summary disposition in favor of defendants under MCR 2.116(C)(8). We reverse and remand for further proceedings.

I. PERTINENT FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiff Tracy Brickey (Tracy) was operating his motorcycle on US–223 when he was struck by a vehicle driven by defendant Vincent McCarver (McCarver) and owned by defendant CR Motors. Tracy was severely injured.

Plaintiffs filed suit against defendants, arguing that (1) McCarver negligently operated a vehicle and caused injury to Tracy, (2) CR Motors was liable for McCarver's negligence under Michigan's owner's-liability

323 Mich.App. 641

statute, MCL 257.401, and the doctrine of negligent entrustment, and (3) McCarver's negligence additionally resulted in plaintiff Brandy Brickey's loss of consortium. Defendants answered the complaint and also moved for summary disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(8) and (10). Defendants contended in their motion that the motorcycle Tracy was operating at the time of the accident was uninsured and that plaintiffs, accordingly, were precluded from recovery under MCL 500.3135(2)(c). The trial court agreed, relying on Braden v. Spencer , 100 Mich. App. 523, 299 N.W.2d 65 (1980), and granted summary disposition in favor of defendants under MCR 2.116(C)(8) (failure to state a claim on which relief may be granted). The trial court denied plaintiffs' motion for reconsideration. This appeal followed.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

A "trial court's ruling on a motion for summary disposition is reviewed de novo on appeal." ZCD Transp., Inc. v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. , 299 Mich. App. 336, 339, 830 N.W.2d 428 (2012), citing Moser v. Detroit , 284 Mich. App. 536, 538, 772 N.W.2d 823 (2009). "A motion brought under subrule (C)(8) tests the legal sufficiency of the complaint solely on the basis of the pleadings." Dalley v. Dykema Gossett PLLC , 287 Mich. App. 296, 304, 788 N.W.2d 679 (2010), citing Corley v. Detroit Bd. of Ed. , 470 Mich. 274, 277, 681 N.W.2d 342 (2004). Summary disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(8) is appropriately granted if the opposing party has failed to state a claim on which relief can be granted. Id ."When deciding a motion under (C)(8), this Court accepts all well-pleaded factual allegations as true and construes them in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party." Dalley , 287 Mich. App. at 304-305, 788 N.W.2d 679,

323 Mich.App. 642

citing Maiden v. Rozwood , 461 Mich. 109, 119, 597 N.W.2d 817 (1999). A motion under MCR 2.116(C)(8)"should be granted only when the claim is so clearly unenforceable as a matter of law that no factual development could possibly justify a right of recovery." Kuhn v. Secretary of State , 228 Mich. App. 319, 324, 579 N.W.2d 101 (1998), citing Wade v. Dep't of Corrections , 439 Mich. 158, 163, 483 N.W.2d 26 (1992).

We also review de novo questions of statutory interpretation. McLean v. McElhaney , 289 Mich. App. 592, 596, 798 N.W.2d 29 (2010).

III. ANALYSIS

Plaintiffs argue that the trial court erred by granting summary disposition in favor of defendants because MCL 500.3135(2)(c), by its plain language, applies only to uninsured "motor vehicles," as opposed to motorcycles, and therefore does not limit plaintiffs' right to seek damages in tort. We agree.

"The primary rule of statutory interpretation is that we are to effect the intent of

919 N.W.2d 414

the Legislature." Stanton v. City of Battle Creek , 466 Mich. 611, 615, 647 N.W.2d 508 (2002), citing Wickens v. Oakwood Healthcare Sys. , 465 Mich. 53, 60, 631 N.W.2d 686 (2001). " ‘To do so, we begin with the language of the statute, ascertaining the intent that may reasonably be inferred from its language.’ " Odom v. Wayne Co. , 482 Mich. 459, 467, 760 N.W.2d 217 (2008), quoting Lash v. Traverse City , 479 Mich. 180, 187, 735 N.W.2d 628 (2007). Our primary focus in statutory interpretation "is the language of the statute under review." People v. Harris , 499 Mich. 332, 345, 885 N.W.2d 832 (2016). If the language is unambiguous, the intent of the Legislature is clear and " ‘judicial construction is neither necessary nor permitted.’ " Odom , 482 Mich. at 467, 760 N.W.2d 217, quoting Lash , 479 Mich. at 187, 735 N.W.2d 628.

323 Mich.App. 643

The words of the statute provide the best evidence of legislative intent and the policy choices made by the Legislature. See White v. City of Ann Arbor , 406 Mich. 554, 562, 281 N.W.2d 283 (1979). Our role as members of the judiciary is not to second-guess those policy decisions or to change the words of a statute in order to reach a different result. In fact, a "clear and unambiguous statute leaves no room for judicial construction or interpretation." Coleman v. Gurwin , 443 Mich. 59, 65, 503 N.W.2d 435 (1993). Therefore, we start by examining the words of the statute, which "should be interpreted on the basis of their ordinary meaning and the context within which they are used in the statute." People v. Zajaczkowski , 493 Mich. 6, 13, 825 N.W.2d 554 (2012). See also Harris , 499 Mich. at 435, 885 N.W.2d 832. Spectrum Health Hosps. v. Farm Bureau Mut. Ins. Co. of Mich. , 492 Mich. 503, 515, 821 N.W.2d 117 (2012).

"Any issues relating to the soundness of the policy underlying the statute or its practical ramifications are properly directed to the Legislature." Maier v. Gen. Tel. Co. of Mich. , 247 Mich. App. 655, 664, 637 N.W.2d 263 (2001). "[W]e may not read into the statute what is not within the Legislature's intent as derived from the language of the statute." Robinson v. City of Lansing , 486 Mich. 1, 15, 782 N.W.2d 171 (2010) (quotation marks and citation omitted).

MCL 500.3135(2)(c) provides, in relevant part:

(2) For a cause of action for damages pursuant to subsection (1) filed on or after July 26, 1996, all of the following apply:

* * *

(c) Damages shall not be assessed in favor of a party who was operating his or her own vehicle at the time the
323 Mich.App. 644
injury occurred and did not have in effect for that motor vehicle the security required by section 3101 at the time the injury occurred.

Section 3101, in turn, provides, "(1) The owner or registrant of a motor vehicle required to be registered in this state shall maintain security for payment of benefits under personal protection insurance, property protection insurance, and residual liability insurance." MCL 500.3101(1). "Motor vehicle" is defined, for the purposes of Chapter 31 of the Insurance Code of 1956, as a "vehicle, including a trailer, that is operated or designed for...

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