Justices scheduled CPAN v. MCCA case for ‘mini oral argument on application’ in October; hearing will help decide whether to ‘take’ the case
It appears we may be one step closer to having the Michigan Supreme Court weigh in on the issue of whether – and to what extent – the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association (MCCA) must be transparent about its process for setting its annual assessments. The annual assessments are the costs that are passed along by auto insurers to consumers in the form of higher prices.
In a press release dated August 28, 2015, the Michigan Supreme Court announced that oral argument on what’s come to be known as the “MCCA transparency” case would be heard sometime between October 13-15, 20015.
However, the case, Coalition Protecting Auto No-Fault (CPAN) v. Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association (MCCA), will be heard in the limited context of a “Mini Oral Argument on Application,” which means the Supreme Court wants to hear arguments to help the justices decide whether to “take” the case and render a decision on the merits.
Here’s how the Supreme Court’s press release described the CPAN v. MCCA case:
“This case involves the request of the Coalition Protecting Auto No-Fault [CPAN] to inspect certain of records of the MI Catastrophic Claims Ass’n (MCCA) premised on the Michigan Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The MCCA was created by the Legislature to protect no-fault automobile insurers from catastrophic losses arising from their obligation to pay or reimburse no-fault policyholders’ medical expenses. The Supreme Court directed oral argument on the application to determine whether to grant the application or take other action. The issue to be addressed is whether MCL 500.134 violates Const 1963, art 4, § 25 by creating an exemption to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA – MCL 15.231 et seq.) without reenacting and republishing the sections of FOIA that are altered or amended.”
In a nutshell, CPAN and the Brain Injury Association of Michigan filed a request under Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) seeking information from the MCCA about how it sets its annual assessments.
An Ingham County Circuit Court judge ruled that the MCCA was subject to FOIA and, thus was obligated to disclose the information. However, the Michigan Court of Appeals disagreed, ruling that the MCCA was exempt from FOIA.
That’s what we’re all waiting – and hoping – for the Supreme Court to tell us.
I know the justices will do what they think is right and I’ll respect whatever decision they ultimately hand down. But I must say I strongly believe the Supreme Court needs to review this case and rule on the side of transparency.
Shining “sunlight” onto the inner workings of the MCCA is crucial to establishing and sustaining the public’s trust, because it will help root out and eliminate abuse, which we suspect is a substantial problem at the MCCA, based our own practice as auto accident lawyers who have many clients with serious injuries that are now being handled by the MCCA.
Additionally, transparency into the MCCA’s rate-calculation process could go a long way toward lowering Michigan auto insurance prices.
To learn more about the MCCA transparency case and why it’s so important that the Supreme Court hear the case, please check out the following Michigan Auto Law blog posts: