Case: Vandercook v. Auto-Owners Ins. Co.
Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Published-After-Release Opinion )
Judges: Per Curiam – Meter, Gadola, and Tukel
Plaintiff sued defendant for breach of a no-fault auto insurance policy issued by defendant to recover no-fault personal protection insurance benefits (PIP) for expenses, loss of wages, replacement services, and other benefits related to injuries sustained by plaintiff in an auto accident on December 23, 2014. Plaintiff also sought declaratory relief for determination of plaintiff’s rights to PIP benefits and defendant’s rights to reduction, set offs, or reimbursements of paid benefits. The case was submitted for case evaluation. Plaintiff’s case evaluation summary listed disputed benefits and stated that defendant owed approximately $93,000 for medical expenses and family-provided attendant care.
The case evaluation panel considered the case and unanimously awarded plaintiff $45,000. Plaintiff accepted the award but typed into the form that he accepted the award “as to benefits referenced in Plaintiff’s Case Evaluation Summary only. Not including wage loss.” Defendant also accepted the award which, because both parties had accepted, had the effect of settling the case for that amount. See MCR 2.403(M).
After notification of the parties’ mutual acceptance, defendant moved for clarification from the trial court as to whom the proper payees were for payment of the case evaluation award. Plaintiff responded by arguing that he had limited his case evaluation acceptance to the unpaid bills he had referred to in his case evaluation summary.
In this case, the parties agreed to submit the case to case evaluation. Neither party objected to case evaluation under MCR 2.403(C).3 Further, the trial court did not exempt any aspect of plaintiff’s action from case evaluation under MCR 2.403(A)(3). Therefore, the case evaluation panel had the entire case for its consideration and determination.
Upon both parties’ acceptance of case evaluation, MCR 2.403(M)(1) required the trial court to enter judgment and dismiss the entire action—not review plaintiff’s case evaluation summary and allow him to bifurcate his claims so that he could file another lawsuit for PIP benefits which had accrued before the date of the case evaluation hearing.