COA: minority tolling statute does not toll SOL for purposes of No Fault one-year-back rule

The Michigan Court of Appeals in Linden v. Citizens Insurance Company of America, No. 312702, held that the minority tolling statute does not toll the statute of limitations for a minor making a personal injury protection (“PIP”) claim under the Assigned Claims Benefits statute of the No Fault Act.

India Thomas was severely injured in an automobile accident on July 17, 2001, leaving her with catastrophic brain damage and being confined to a wheel chair for the remainder of her life. India was a minor at the time of the accident and did not have any identifiable insurance coverage to cover her injuries. Years later, on June 24, 2010 India’s conservator filed a claim through an assigned claims plan, which was then assigned to Citizens Insurance Company of America.

Under MCL 500.3145(1)’s one-year-back rule, a “claimant may not recover [PIP] benefits for any portion of the loss incurred more than one year before the date on which the action was commenced.” The Michigan Supreme Court held in a previous case that the protection afforded to minors in MCL 600.5851(1), which tolls the statute of limitations in civil cases until minors reach the age of majority, did not apply to the one-year-back rule.

India argued that the one-year-back rule did not apply to her claim because she made her claim for PIP benefits through an assigned claims plan under MCL 500.3174, not through an insurer under MCL 500.3145. Thus, India argued, the minority protections of MCL 600.5851 applied and her claims could proceed because MCL 500.3174 did not expressly contain the one-year-back rule.

The Court of Appeals disagreed and held that claims filed under MCL 500.3174 are subject to the one-year-back rule of MCL 500.3145. The Court ruled that because the minority protections of MCL 600.5851 do not apply to the one-year-back rule, India was not sheltered by the statute, and the limitations period was not tolled for her claims.