Grange Ins. Co. of Mich. v. Lawrence, Docket Nos. 145206

CourtSupreme Court of Michigan
Writing for the CourtMARY BETH KELLY
Citation494 Mich. 475,835 N.W.2d 363
PartiesGRANGE INSURANCE COMPANY OF MICHIGAN v. LAWRENCE. Automobile Club Insurance Association v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company.
Docket Number143808.,Docket Nos. 145206,Calendar No. 1.
Decision Date29 July 2013

494 Mich. 475
835 N.W.2d 363


Automobile Club Insurance Association
State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company.

Docket Nos. 145206, 143808.
Calendar No. 1.

Supreme Court of Michigan.

Argued April 11, 2013.
Decided July 29, 2013.

[835 N.W.2d 365]

Bremer & Nelson LLP, Grand Rapids (by Ann M. Byrne) for Grange Insurance Company of Michigan.

Ward Law, PC (by Michael D. Ward), for Farm Bureau General Insurance Company of Michigan.

Hom, Killeen, Siefer, Arene & Hoehn, Ann Arbor (by Craig J. Pollard) and John A. Lydick, for Automobile Club Insurance Association.

Bensinger, Cotant & Menkes, P.C., Grand Rapids (by Dale L. Arndt), for State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company.

Judith A. Curtis, Anne Argiroff, and Rebecca Shiemke for Amicus Curiae the State Bar of Michigan, Family Law Section.

Opinion of the Court


[494 Mich. 481]These cases present two related issues

[835 N.W.2d 366]

under Michigan's no-fault act: 1 (1) whether a child of divorced parents who has a legal residence in both parents' homes and who is injured in an automobile accident can be “domiciled” in more than one household within the meaning of MCL 500.3114(1); and (2) whether a family court order establishing the custody of minor children is conclusive evidence of a child's domicile for purposes of determining coverage under MCL 500.3114(1). We hold, consistent with traditional definitions of the term “domicile” under the common law and as that term is used in MCL 500.3114(1), that a child of divorced parents has only one domicile at any given point in time. Further, in the event that the child's parents are divorced and a family court has entered an order relating to custody, we hold, consistent with the common law of domicile as it pertains to minors and the legally binding nature of custody orders, that the child's domicile is established by operation of law and that the custody order is thus determinative of the child's domicile for all purposes, including the no-fault act.

In both Grange and ACIA, the respective judgment of divorce and custody order conclusively established the minor children's domiciles. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals in Grange, which erroneously held that a minor of divorced parents can have two domiciles, and we remand to the circuit court for entry of summary disposition in favor of Grange Insurance Company. In ACIA, we reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals, which erred by concluding that a question of fact existed regarding the child's domicile, and we remand to the circuit court for entry of summary disposition in favor of ACIA.


Edward Lawrence and Laura Rosinski were married in 1997 and had two daughters, Katelyn and Josalyn, the latter of whom is the deceased insured in this case. Lawrence and Rosinski divorced in 2005; Rosinski remained in the marital home and Lawrence moved into his parents' home, both located in Muskegon, Michigan. The judgment of divorce granted Lawrence and Rosinski joint legal custody of Josalyn and Katelyn, but Rosinski was given “primary physical custody” of the girls. The judgment of divorce provided Lawrence with frequent parenting time, including alternating weekends, Wednesday evenings, alternating holidays, liberal phone contact, and liberal parenting time when Rosinski was unavailable. The judgment of divorce further provided:

A parent whose custody or parenting time of a child is governed by this order, shall not change the legal residence of the child except in compliance with [MCL 722.31], which prohibits moving a child out of the State of Michigan or greater than 100 miles from the non-custodial parent without a court order. The party awarded custody must notify the Friend of the Court, in writing, immediately, when the minor child is moved to another address.

On September 24, 2009, eight-year-old Josalyn was a passenger in a car owned and driven by Rosinski when another driver ignored a stop sign and hit Rosinski's vehicle, resulting in fatal injuries to Josalyn. Rosinski and Lawrence were appointed as joint personal representatives of Josalyn's estate. 2

[835 N.W.2d 367]

[494 Mich. 483]After the accident, Rosinski and Lawrence submitted claims for personal injury protection (PIP) insurance benefits to their respective insurers. Rosinski was the named insured on an automobile insurance policy provided by Farm Bureau General Insurance Company of Michigan (Farm Bureau); Lawrence was the named insured on an automobile insurance policy provided by Grange Insurance Company (Grange). Farm Bureau insured the car that was involved in the accident and Grange did not insure any vehicle involved in the accident. With regard to Rosinski's claim, Farm Bureau paid more than $30,000 in PIP benefits for Josalyn's injuries and death; Grange denied Lawrence's claim for PIP benefits.

Subsequently, Farm Bureau asserted that Grange was in the same order of priority for the payment of PIP benefits because, in its view, Josalyn was “domiciled” in both parents' homes pursuant to MCL 500.3114(1); Farm Bureau thus sought from Grange partial reimbursement of benefits pursuant to MCL 500.3115(2). Grange denied the claim and filed a complaint for declaratory relief, seeking a declaration that Josalyn was domiciled with Rosinski, not Lawrence, at the time of the accident. Grange asserted that it was not required to reimburse Farm Bureau for any of the PIP benefits that Farm Bureau had paid because Josalyn was not “domiciled” with Lawrence at the time of the accident as required by MCL 500.3114(1), and Michigan law does not recognize dual domiciles. Grange further asserted that it was not obligated to pay PIP benefits for Josalyn's injuries because Josalyn was not a named insured under its policy.3

[494 Mich. 484]Farm Bureau filed a counterclaim seeking a declaratory judgment that Josalyn was domiciled with each of her parents at the time of the accident and that Farm Bureau was entitled to partial reimbursement of the PIP benefits it had paid. Farm Bureau also argued that the Grange policy conflicted with the no-fault act by excluding Josalyn as an insured through its automatic attribution of domicile to the residence of the custodial parent.

Both insurance companies filed motions for summary disposition pursuant to MCR 2.116(C)(10) and the circuit court granted summary disposition to Farm Bureau. Applying the factors that are traditionally used to determine domicile under the no-fault act as set forth in Workman v. Detroit Automobile Inter–Insurance Exchange4 and Dairyland Insurance Co. v. Auto–Owners Insurance Co.,5 the circuit court concluded that Josalyn had two domiciles at the time of the accident, one with each parent. The circuit court thus ordered Grange to reimburse Farm Bureau for 50 percent of the PIP benefits Farm

[835 N.W.2d 368]

Bureau had paid and 50 percent of Farm Bureau's processing expenses.

Grange appealed to the Court of Appeals, which affirmed the circuit court's decision.6 The Court of Appeals rejected Grange's argument that Michigan law [494 Mich. 485]does not recognize dual domiciles for a minor child of divorced parents because, according to the panel, “[t]he Michigan Supreme Court has ... determined ... for purposes of the no-fault act, [that] the terms ‘domicile’ and ‘residence’ are ‘legally synonymous' ” and “nothing in MCL 500.3114(1) ... limits a minor child of divorced parents to one domicile or defines domicile as a ‘principal residence.’ ” 7 After applying the domicile factors from Workman and Dairyland, the Court of Appeals concluded that the undisputed evidence established that Josalyn resided with both parents. Regarding the effect of the judgment of divorce, which established primary physical custody with Rosinski, the Court of Appeals stated, “that order does not change the fact that the evidence showed that Josalyn actually resided with both her parents, which is the relevant inquiry under the no-fault act.” 8 The Court of Appeals also held that Grange's policy was invalid because the policy, which requires a court adjudication of custody to be conclusive for determining a child's principal residence, would limit Grange's “obligation where the no-fault act does not....” 9

Grange sought leave to appeal, which this Court granted.10

[494 Mich. 486]B. ACIA v. STATE FARM

In this case, Sarah is the minor child fatally injured in a motor vehicle accident. Sarah's parents, Francis Campanelli and Tina Taylor, were divorced in Michigan in 1995. The original judgment of divorce granted joint legal custody of Sarah and her sister, Ashley, to both parents and “physical custody” to Campanelli, allowing Taylor only reasonable visitation. Additionally, the judgment of divorce contained the following provision:


The domicile or residence of said minor children shall not be removed from the State of Michigan without the prior approval of the Court, and that [Campanelli] shall promptly notify the Friend of the Court whenever said children are moved to another address.

A little more than a year after the family court granted the judgment of divorce, Campanelli secured a job in Tennessee that offered a considerable improvement in his career. He moved the family court to modify the original judgment of divorce and successfully obtained an order in February 1996, as the custodial parent, permitting him to change the children's domicile to the state of Tennessee.11 Under the terms of that order, Taylor was entitled to

[835 N.W.2d 369]

six weeks of visitation in the summer, and Campanelli and Taylor were to alternate the one-week Easter, Christmas, and winter school vacations. The February 1996 order did not otherwise modify either the joint legal custody originally granted to both parents or the physical custody awarded to Campanelli.

[494 Mich. 487]In 2007, when Sarah was 16–years–old, she...

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