Michigan Court Considers ‘Unlawful Taking’ Farm Bureau Case

September 26, 2011

An insurance company has persuaded the Michigan Supreme Court to decide whether the insurer must pay the medical bills of a man who was drunk and had no license when he crashed his father’s car into a tree.

Farm Bureau Insurance has been ordered by lower courts to pay about $33,000 to Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids. Craig Smith Jr. wasn’t supposed to be driving his father’s Ford Explorer. But Smith’s girlfriend had consent and turned the wheel over to him.

Farm Bureau says it shouldn’t have to pay for what it considers an “unlawful taking” of the vehicle. But a Kent County judge and the state appeals court followed a 1975 Supreme Court case in which the justices said a vehicle’s owner assumes the risks.

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