Chiropractic Council v. Com'R Fin. & Ins., Docket No. 126530.

CourtSupreme Court of Michigan
Citation716 N.W.2d 561,475 Mich. 363
Docket NumberDocket No. 126531.,Docket No. 126530.
PartiesMICHIGAN CHIROPRACTIC COUNCIL and MICHIGAN CHIROPRACTIC SOCIETY, Petitioners-Appellees, v. COMMISSIONER OF THE OFFICE OF FINANCIAL AND INSURANCE SERVICES, Respondent, and Farmers Insurance Exchange and Mid-Century Insurance Company Intervenors-Respondents-Appellants.
Decision Date28 June 2006

Miller Canfield Paddock & Stone, P.L.C. (by Kevin J. Moody and Jaclyn Shoshana Levine), Lansing, for Michigan Chiropractic Council and Michigan Chiropractic Society.

Warner Norcross & Judd L.L.P. (by Jeffrey O. Birkhold, Joseph A. Kuiper, and Ryan D. Cobb), Grand Rapids, for Farmers Insurance Exchange and Mid-Century Insurance Company.

Kerr, Russell and Weber, P.L.C. (by Daniel J. Schulte, Joanne Geha Swanson, and Michael A. Sneyd), Detroit, for amici curiae Michigan State Medical Society.

Willingham & Coté, P.C. (by John A. Yeager, Matthew K. Payok, and Leon J. Letter), East Lansing, for amici curiae Insurance Institute of Michigan.

Hertz, Schram & Saretsky, P.C. (by Robert P. Geller and William D. Adams), Bloomfield Hills, for amici curiae PPOM, L.L.C.

Sinas, Dramis, Brake, Boughton & McIntyre, P.C. (by George T. Sinas, L. Page Graves, and Steven A. Hicks), Lansing, for amici curiae Coalition Protecting Auto No-Fault (CPAN).


Petitioners, two organizations representing the interests of Michigan chiropractors, challenged the validity of the "Preferred Provider Option" offered by appellants to their policyholders. In count I of their petition, petitioners claimed that the option violated the rights of the appellants' insureds. In count II of their petition, petitioners claimed a violation of the rights of chiropractic providers. Regarding count I, we hold that petitioners do not satisfy the test for third-party standing, and may not litigate the claims of appellants' insureds. Regarding count II, assuming arguendo that petitioners have standing to sue on behalf of their membership petitioners have not established an actual or imminent injury. Thus, petitioners' claim is not ripe for judicial review. Therefore, we vacate the judgments of the circuit court and the Court of Appeals and reinstate the decision of the Commissioner of the Office of Financial and Insurance Services (the Commissioner).1

I. Facts and Procedural History

The appellant-insurers offer a "Preferred Provider Option" (PPO) to their no-fault automobile insurance policyholders, allowing their insureds to elect to limit their choice of medical care providers in the event they require personal injury protection (PIP) benefits. In exchange for reduced PIP premiums, insureds agree to receive treatment from a network of medical care providers maintained by Preferred Providers of Michigan (PPOM). In the event that a policyholder seeks treatment from a provider outside the PPOM network, the insured must pay a deductible, and provider reimbursement is limited to PPOM's customary reimbursement rate. The "Preferred Provider Option" is entirely voluntary; if policyholders do not opt for the endorsement, they do not receive the premium discount and are not limited to the PPOM network of providers.

Appellants began offering the discounted policy option in July 2000.2 In August 2000, petitioners filed a request with the Commissioner for a contested case hearing pursuant to MCL 500.2028 and MCL 500.2029, claiming that the PPO endorsement violated the Insurance Code, MCL 500.100 et seq. Petitioners asked the Commissioner to withdraw approval of the endorsement pursuant to MCL 500.2236(5) and to issue a cease and desist order to respondents.3

The Commissioner sought additional information from respondents and petitioners, which petitioners refused to supply. On the basis of the record established, the Commissioner rejected petitioners' request for a contested case hearing. The Commissioner concluded that the endorsement did not violate the no-fault act, MCL 500.3101 et seq. Petitioners appealed to the circuit court, which reversed the decision of the Commissioner and held that the "Preferred Provider Option" was not authorized by law.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the circuit court judgment, holding that respondents' PPO endorsement was inconsistent with the no-fault act and that the authority to issue the endorsement must emanate from the Legislature.4

We granted leave to appeal, directing the parties to address among the issues briefed whether petitioners had standing to challenge the Preferred Provider Option on behalf of appellants' insureds and chiropractic providers.5

II. Standard of Review

Whether a party has standing is a question of law that we review de novo.6 Moreover, questions of justiciability implicate constitutional separation of powers principles.7 Constitutional questions are likewise reviewed de novo.8

III. Analysis
a. Justiciability

Our tripartite system of government is constitutionally established in both our state and federal constitutions. U.S. Const., art. III, § 1 confers upon the courts only "judicial power"; U.S. Const., art. III, § 2 limits the judicial power to "[c]ases" and "[c]ontroversies." Similarly, our state constitution, Const. 1963, art. 3, § 2, provides:

The powers of government are divided into three branches: legislative, executive and judicial. No person exercising powers of one branch shall exercise powers properly belonging to another branch except as expressly provided in this constitution.

The powers of each branch are outlined in the Michigan Constitution, which assigns to the Legislature the task of exercising the "legislative power,"9 the Governor the task of exercising the "executive power,"10 and the judiciary the task of exercising the "judicial power."11

In Nat'l Wildlife, this Court described and defined the Court's constitutionally assigned "judicial power":

The "judicial power" has traditionally been defined by a combination of considerations: the existence of a real dispute, or case or controversy; the avoidance of deciding hypothetical questions; the plaintiff who has suffered real harm; the existence of genuinely adverse parties; the sufficient ripeness or maturity of a case; the eschewing of cases that are moot at any stage of their litigation; the ability to issue proper forms of effective relief to a party; the avoidance of political questions or other non-justiciable controversies; the avoidance of unnecessary constitutional issues; and the emphasis upon proscriptive as opposed to prescriptive decision making. [471 Mich. at 614-615, 684 N.W.2d 800.]

In seeking to make certain that the judiciary does not usurp the power of coordinate branches of government, and exercises only "judicial power," both this Court and the federal courts have developed justiciability doctrines to ensure that cases before the courts are appropriate for judicial action.12 These include the doctrines of standing,13 ripeness,14 and mootness.15

Federal courts have held that doctrines such as standing and mootness are constitutionally derived and jurisdictional in nature, because failure to satisfy their elements implicates the court's constitutional authority to exercise only "judicial power" and adjudicate only actual cases or controversies.16 Because these doctrines are jurisdictional in nature, they may be raised at any time and may not be waived by the parties.17

Likewise, our case law has also viewed the doctrines of justiciability as affecting "judicial power," the absence of which renders the judiciary constitutionally powerless to adjudicate the claim.18 This is a point made in Anway v. Grand Rapids Co.:19

"The duty of this court, as of every judicial tribunal, is limited to determining rights of persons or of property, which are actually controverted in the particular case before it. When, in determining such rights, it becomes necessary to give an opinion upon a question of law, that opinion may have weight as a precedent for future decisions. But the court is not empowered to decide moot questions or abstract propositions, or to declare, for the government of future cases, principles or rules of law which cannot affect the result as to the thing in issue in the case before it. No stipulation of parties or counsel, whether in the case before the court or in any other case, can enlarge the power, or affect the duty, of the court in this regard." [Citation omitted.]

Similarly, in Novi v. Robert Adell Children's Funded Trust,20 this Court recently stated:

Where the facts of a case make clear that a litigated issue has become moot, a court is, of course, bound to take note of such fact and dismiss the suit, even if the parties do not present the issue of mootness. "Courts are bound to take notice of the limits of their authority, and a court may, and should, on its own motion, though the question is not raised by the pleadings or by counsel, recognize its lack of jurisdiction and act accordingly by staying proceedings, dismissing the action, or otherwise disposing thereof, at any stage of the proceeding." Because "[t]he judicial power ... is the right to determine actual controversies arising between adverse litigants," a court hearing a case in which mootness has become apparent would lack the power to hear the suit. [Citations omitted.]21

Because "the most critical element" of the "judicial power" requires that a case contain a genuine controversy between the parties,22 we must ensure that one exists before exercising our judicial authority. The judiciary arrogates to itself the powers of the executive and legislative branches whenever it acts outside the constitutional confines of "judicial power." Fidelity to our constitutional structure compels this Court to be "vigilant in preventing the judiciary from usurping the powers of the political branches."23 Thus, we reiterate that questions of justiciability concern the...

To continue reading

Request your trial
41 cases
  • Krohn v. Home–owners Ins. Co.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Michigan
    • 29 Julio 2011
    ...a placebo. FN75. Michigan Chiropractic Council v. Office of Fin. & Ins. Servs. Comm'r, 262 Mich.App. 228, 685 N.W.2d 428 (2004), vacated 475 Mich. 363, 716 N.W.2d 561 (2006). FN76. Chiropractic Council, 262 Mich.App. at 246 n. 12, 685 N.W.2d 428. 77. The official ballot language stated: PRO......
  • Hendee v. Putnam Twp., Docket No. 137446
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Michigan
    • 15 Julio 2010
    ...has ever asked the township for permission to develop a MHC. Just as this Court held in Mich. Chiropractic Council, 475 Mich. at 382, 716 N.W.2d 561, that the issue was not ripe for review in that case because the plaintiffs had not yet suffered an “actual ... injury,” the issue in the inst......
  • Olson v. Town of Cottage Grove, 2005AP2257.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • 30 Mayo 2008
    ...419 U.S. 102, 140, 95 S.Ct. 335, 42 L.Ed.2d 320 (1974); see also Mich. Chiropractic Council v. Comm'r of Office of Fin. and Ins. Servs., 475 Mich. 363, 716 N.W.2d 561, 571 (2006); Herbst Gaming, Inc. v. Heller, 122 Nev. 877, 141 P.3d 1224, 1230-31 (2006). A declaratory judgment action filed......
  • Mich Citizens v. Nestlé Waters
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Michigan
    • 25 Julio 2007
    ...a matter unrelated to the standing issue decided in this case. 19. 477 Mich. 892 (2006). 20. Lee, 464 Mich. at 734, 629 N.W.2d 900. 21. 475 Mich. 363, 369-370, 716 N.W.2d 561 22. See also Const. 1963, art. 4, § 1 (vesting the "legislative power" in a senate and a house of representatives); ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT