Attorneys who represent auto accident victims in this state have long suspected that the deck is stacked against their clients when they take their case before the Michigan Supreme Court.
Those suspicions are now confirmed, according to an excellent and timely new study by the Coalition Protecting Auto No-Fault (CPAN), “Analysis of Michigan Supreme Court cases decided under the Michigan No-Fault Act within the past 10 years.”
Significantly, here’s what CPAN found:
The past 10 years have certainly left experienced No Fault lawyers increasingly puzzled by the “bizzaro” world that the Michigan Supreme Court seems to inhabit whenever it interprets Michigan’s No Fault Law. Whether that be its own incredibly activist interpretation of a plain, unambiguous statutory definition of serious impairment in Kreiner, to the dreadful Cameron decision to Johnson v. Recca, the lawyers who practice in this area of law have largely adopted a “what’s next?” attitude while waiting for the next decision to come.
For the past decade, the Michigan Supreme Court has devastated the rights of car accident victims. I’ve written at length about legal decisions such as Kreiner, Cameron and Devillers — and recently a slew of decisions that decimate an injury victim’s access to life-saving No Fault insurance benefits — that are destroying the fundamental principles underlying our No Fault law.
In a frustrating, bewildering and confounding opinion in McPherson v. McPherson, the Michigan Supreme Court contradicted itself on the proper definition of No Fault causation, specifically about whether Ian McPherson’s spinal cord injury was caused by his motor vehicle accident.
On the one hand, the Supreme Court majority – comprised of the court’s four Republican justices but also the recently-elected Democratic justice Bridget Mary McCormack – concluded that the “causal connection” between Mr. McPherson’s injury and his accident was “insufficient” and, thus, the majority denied his claim for No Fault benefits.
Michigan saw that happen during the previous “Gang of Four” era. These four Engler appointees not only took control of the Court, but they caused so many lawyers and judges to lose faith in our civil justice system. As Justice Stevens observed in his dissent in the Citizens United case: “A democracy cannot function effectively when its constituent members believe laws are being bought and sold.” Citizens United v. FEC, 130 S. Ct. 876, 954 (2010) (Stevens, J., dissenting). The way our highest Court ruled consistently against individual citizens and for the insurance industry, dismantling entire areas of consumer protection and personal injury law in its wake was and remains shocking.
As my readers and friends know, I have strongly endorsed Bridget Mary McCormack for the Michigan Supreme Court. Professor McCormack was also endorsed by the New York Times on November 1, and she represents a bright hope to preserving the integrity of the Michigan Supreme Court.
The Republican majority of our Michigan Supreme Court has sided with insurance companies — and against consumers, including seriously injured auto accident victims — 100% of the time.
Take a look:
As the video says, our current Justices Stephen Markman and Brian Zahra have sided with insurance companies over people 100 percent of the time under Michigan’s No-Fault law. And Republican candidate and former insurance industry lawyer Colleen O’Brien isn’t any better. She actually worked to deny benefits to a cancer patient.
On July 30, 2012, in Douglas v. Allstate Insurance Company, the Michigan Supreme Court issued new rules for when an auto accident victim’s family member can be compensated for providing attendant care services to the victim. This decision will have a huge impact for people who currently receive attendant care No-Fault benefits from their auto insurance company, and changes the rules in mid-stream for attendant care lawyers on how submittals must be made.
Our four activist Republican justices on the Michigan Supreme Court have once again proved that form over substance reigns supreme in this state, especially when it means that an injured, innocent person loses to an insurance company or corporation, “form over substance” is a fitting description of the judicial philosophy for our state’s highest court.
Shouldn’t Justice Robert P. Young, Jr. be the anti-Tea Party candidate for the Michigan Supreme Court this November? Then how ironic that Justice Robert Young is now attempting to portray himself as standing for the principles of the Tea Party movement before the upcoming election.
If they only knew about the real Justice Young.
There’s a lot I liked about the original Tea Party. Not the one that has lately been kidnapped by Karl Rove, Roger Ailes, and the corporate establishment, but the original grass roots movement. Chief among those admirable qualities was that the tea party seeks to represent ordinary Americans in a world where both political parties seem kidnapped by special interests.