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Collins vs. National General

Case Conclusion Date: 07.01.2011

Practice Area: Motorcycle accident

Outcome: The vehicle which struck Plaintiff's decedent was an "uninsured motor vehicle" within the terms of the UIM Policy. Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment was GRANTED.

Description: On July 29, 2009, Edwards Collins, Jr., was riding a motorcycle when he was struck and killed by a car driven by Calvin Smith. Smith was intoxicated at the time of the accident. The vehicle Smith was attempting to drive was owned by Dorothy Lee Berrien, who had insured it in her name under a policy written by Citizens Insurance Company of the Midwest ("Citizens Policy"). At the time of the accident Plaintiff's decedent was insured under an uninsured motorist policy written by Defendant ("UIM Policy"). Following the accident, Citizens discovered numerous material misrepresentations by Berrien and rescinded the Citizens Policy entirely and retroactively. Plaintiff sought personal injury protection benefits from Citizens, which were denied. In a letter dated September 14, 2009, Citizens informed Plaintiff Naomi Collins that it was "denying Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits . . . because there was no coverage on the date of loss." Plaintiff also brought suit against Smith and Berrien in Wayne County Circuit Court. Although Citizens defended Plaintiff, it eventually moved for summary disposition and reformation of its policy to provide only the coverage for Plaintiff's claims mandated by statute. Citizens Ins. Co. v. Jackson, Case No. 10-007334-CK (Wayne Cnty. Cir. Ct. Jan. 11, 2011). On January 11, 2011, the Wayne County Circuit Court granted Citizens' motion, reforming the Citizens Policy to provide coverage of no more than the minimum required under Michigan law for Plaintiff's claims against Smith and Berrien, pursuant to Mich. Comp. Laws § 257.520(f)(1). Plaintiff commenced the instant case against Defendant in Wayne County Circuit Court, and Defendant timely removed to this court on August 24, 2010. Both parties moved for summary judgment. Plaintiff contends that Citizens denied coverage, thereby permitting recovery under the uninsured motorist coverage in the UIM Policy. Defendant contends that the January 11, 2011, order of the Wayne County Circuit Court effects coverage of Plaintiff's claims, thereby foreclosing the possibility of recovery under the uninsured motorist coverage. The court must now interpret the terms of the UIM Policy to determine whether the vehicle which struck Plaintiff's decedent was an "uninsured motor vehicle" as defined by the insurance contract between the parties.

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