On February 17, 2017, a Macomb County Circuit Court judge granted a motion for summary disposition brought by associate Theresa Bodwin, dismissing a lawsuit in favor of a valued insurance company client.
The plaintiff sought first-party no-fault benefits under a policy issued by Everest National Insurance Company for injuries she allegedly sustained in a May 2015 accident. Although the plaintiff claimed that a van reversed into her car and caused trauma to her upper back, lower back, legs, shoulders, neck, and left hip, the van’s driver stated that the plaintiff rear-ended his vehicle.
Discovery revealed several key facts that undermined the plaintiff’s case. For example, despite the seriousness of her injuries, there was very little damage to the plaintiff’s vehicle and she left the scene of the accident before the police arrived. During her deposition, the plaintiff testified that she had never had any injuries to her back or neck prior to the accident, but social security records showed countless back and neck injuries. Additionally, she struggled with drug abuse for several years before the accident and had a long criminal history involving breaking and entering, burglary, larceny, stolen property, forgery, counterfeiting, fraud, and drug felonies.
Based upon the plaintiff’s sordid background and her questionable allegations, Theresa prepared and argued a motion for summary disposition in July 2016, arguing that the plaintiff’s myriad misrepresentations proved that her claim for insurance benefits was fraudulent. At the hearing, the judge seemed opposed to dismissing the case, indicating that it would be reasonable for a person to forget prior injuries despite Theresa’s contention that fifteen years of countless injuries are impossible to neglect.
The court delayed its ruling on the summary disposition motion, and the matter proceeded toward a March 2017 trial date. On February 17, 2017 – the same day that Theresa and shareholder Jim Wright were required to file motions in limine and submit trial exhibits – the judge granted the motion, citing Bahri v IDS Property Casualty Insurance Co. as the basis for a trial court’s ability to dismiss an entire no-fault action in the presence of fraud.
The outcome in this matter shows the importance of patience, as well as Theresa’s resolve and persistence. The firm litigated the no-fault action for almost two years before obtaining this favorable outcome.