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Michigan Supreme Court contradicts itself on No Fault ‘causation’

June 12, 2013 by Steven M. Gursten

No Fault attorney highlights Court’s contradictions in recent opinion on  No Fault causation in McPherson v. McPherson

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.

But, on the other hand, the majority contradicted itself repeatedly and its own conclusion with its repeated statements acknowledging the existence of clear, unbroken causation.

For example:

“Plaintiff developed a neurological disorder as a result of injuries sustained in a 2007 motor vehicle accident. Subsequently, in 2008, while driving a motorcycle, he experienced a seizure consistent with that disorder, lost control of the motorcycle, crashed into a parked car, and sustained a severe spinal cord injury that left him quadriplegic.”

*    *    *

“[Plaintiff injured his spinal cord] in the 2008 motorcycle crash, which was caused by his seizure, which was caused by his neurological disorder, which was caused by his use of a motor vehicle … in 2007.”

*    *    *

“[W]e agree with the dissent that … plaintiff’s second seizure and resultant fall came about as a result of the neurological disorder suffered in the first accident …”

*    *    *

“[T]he first injury directly caused the second accident, which in turn caused the second injury.”

*    *    *

Judging by those comments, one would think the justices would be siding with dissenting Justice Michael F. Cavanagh who wrote:

“[T]he 2007 motor vehicle accident bore more than an incidental, fortuitous, or ‘but for’ connection to plaintiff’s 2008 injuries because plaintiff’s 2008 injuries are directly related to the seizure disorder, i.e., the 2008 injuries were an inextricable result of his seizure disorder.”

Related information:

Spinal cord injury from a car accident

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