On June 15, 2017, the Michigan Supreme Court decided Kemp v Farm Bureau General Insurance Company of Michigan (Docket No. 151719), a case concerning a plaintiff’s claim for personal injury benefits when he was injured while unloading items from his vehicle. The Supreme Court first addressed whether the plaintiff satisfied the parked vehicle exception for lowering property from the vehicle, MCL 500.3106(1)(b). The Court found that the plaintiff was lowering property from his vehicle, and there was a question of fact as to whether he was injured as a “direct result” of that process. It was for the jury to decide whether the plaintiff’s property was “of sufficient size and weight to cause plaintiff’s injury.” Id., slip op. at 9.
Next, the Supreme Court considered whether the plaintiff had satisfied the transportational function requirement. The Supreme Court held that conveyance of one’s personal belongings is closely related to the transportational function of a motor vehicle and overruled the Court of Appeals decision in Shellenberger v Ins Co of North America to the contrary. The plaintiff had satisfied the test as a matter of law.
Finally, the Court held that because the plaintiff had created a question of fact as to whether his injury was the direct result of lowering property from his vehicle, the plaintiff had also created a question of fact as to whether the causal relationship between his use of the motor vehicle as a motor vehicle and his injury was more than incidental, fortuitous, or but-for. The Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals and remanded for further proceedings.