Court of Appeals Decision Represents Major Victory for Survivors of Catastrophic Crashes and their Families

From CPAN: For Complete Post, Click Here…

In a major victory for survivors of catastrophic crashes and their loved ones, the Michigan Court of Appeals today ruled that benefit reductions passed as part of 2019 auto insurance reforms could not be applied retroactively.

The Court ruled 2-1 in favor of the plaintiffs in the case of Andary et al. v USAA Casualty Insurance Company et al. The  lawsuit was filed in 2019 by guardians of two catastrophically injured auto accident victims — along with the nationally renowned brain injury rehabilitation clinic Eisenhower Center — and names Citizens Insurance Company of America and USAA Casualty Insurance Company as the defendants. The victims, on whose behalf the lawsuit was filed, are Ellen Andary, of East Lansing, and Philip Krueger, of Ann Arbor.

“The decision will enable thousands of severely injured accident victims to continue receiving medical expense and home care reimbursement at the benefit levels that were legally enforceable under insurance policies that those victims bought and paid for for years before the new laws went into effect,” said George Sinas, lead counsel for the plaintiffs in Andary. Mr. Sinas is also general counsel for CPAN.

“In addition, the decision will prevent insurance companies from reaping windfall profits by retaining premiums they collected to pay benefits they would no longer be required to provide,” said Mr. Sinas.

Most significantly, the ruling determined that:

  • The legislation did not contain specific and sufficient language confirming that the legislature intended to apply these changes retroactively.
  • Even if the legislation contained sufficient provisions intending to apply benefit reductions retroactively, such an application would have been an unconstitutional violation of the Contracts Clause of the Michigan Constitution.
  • The trial court improperly dismissed the plaintiffs’ constitutional equal protection and due process challenges, which alleged that such benefit reductions would violate these constitutional provisions if applied to future accident victims, for the reason that such allegations required factual development in the trial court.

Under the Michigan Court Rules, this published opinion has immediate, binding, precedential effect unless it is overturned by the state Supreme Court.

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