Michigan Supreme Court Overrules Family Joyriding Exception and Permissive User Exception to MCL 500.3113(a) of the No-Fault Act

I wrote an amicus brief on behalf of the Insurance Institute of Michigan in this case urging the Court to overrule the judicially created “family joyriding exception”.  Yesterday, the Court issued an opinion which did precisely that, getting rid of the judicial doctrine that had been used to circumvent the plain language of MCL 500.3113(a), which bars a person from receiving no-fault (personal insurance protection) benefits while using a vehicle he or she had taken unlawfully unless there was a reasonable belief to an entitlement to take and use the vehicle.

The Court consolidated this case with another case.  The Court concludes that an unlawful taking can occur without authority of the owner, even if the vehicle is taken by a family member (the “family joyriding exception”) (Progressive v. DeYoung); or by someone who gained permission from an intermediary who, themselves, had authority to use the vehicle (the “chain of permissive use” theory). (Spectrum v. Farm Bureau).

Thus, the Court overruled years of judicial precedent that had read MCL 500.3113(a) out of the No-Fault Act in circumstances where an auto accident occurred as the result of a joyriding family member’s unauthorized use of a vehicle or a person unauthorized to operate a vehicle but who has permission from an intermediary with permission to use the vehicle.

The opinion and my amicus brief are attached.

Spectrum v. Farm Bureau and Progressive v. DeYoung


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