SMDA is proud to report that survivors of catastrophic crashes and their loved ones, including a number of my clients at Serafini, Michialowski, Derkacz & Associates, PC, won a major victory in the Michigan Court of Appeals today. The Court issued its long awaited decision in Andary v USAA and held that benefit reductions passed as part of 2019 auto insurance reforms could not be applied retroactively. The decision Represents a Major Victory for Survivors of Catastrophic Crashes and their Families, has binding effect on retroactive application of benefit reductions.
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 law went into effect. 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 if the Court had allowed the Insurance Companies to retroactively apply the new law to these claims some of which stem from catastrophic collections that occurred more than thirty years ago.
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. Lead counsel for the Plaintiff, George Sinas is to be commended for his work on this case. It is a lifeline for the most vulnerable citizens of our state.