Liars Must Always Lose

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This case arose out of an accident that occurred in 2019. Plaintiff was hit by a car at around 8:15 p.m. while riding a bicycle in Flint, Michigan. Plaintiff sustained serious injuries, including multiple broken bones and lacerations, blunt force trauma to the chest and abdomen, and a traumatic brain injury. However he submitted a claim with false representations about his past medical history and his suit was dismissed.

Ronnie Fields appealed the trial court’s order granting summary disposition to defendant, Nationwide Mutual Fire Insurance Company. In Ronnie Fields and Anderson Medical Supplies v. National General Insurance Company, Integon National Insurance Company, Garlando Doxie, Kanesha Marzette, and Michigan Automobile Insurance, Defendants, and Nationwide Mutual Fire Insurance Company, No. 361959, Court of Appeals of Michigan (August 17, 2023) the Court of Appeals gave effect to the allegations of fraud.


In relation to the accident, plaintiff submitted two applications for personal protection insurance (PIP) benefits through the Michigan Automobile Insurance Placement Facility (MAIPF). The applications stated that plaintiff did not have any of the same injuries prior to the accident, that he had no preexisting medical conditions, and that he had not applied for social security benefits before or after the accident.  However, his second application noted that plaintiff was eligible for social security benefits, contrary to the information from the October 4, 2019 application. Each of the applications contained a fraud warning.

Plaintiff sued in February 2020 the MAIPF was required to assign his claim to an insurer. The MAIPF eventually assigned his claim to Nationwide, and Nationwide was substituted as a defendant.  Nationwide ultimately filed a motion for summary disposition and alleged that plaintiff committed fraud by submitting false information in support of his claim for PIP benefits, and that he was, therefore, ineligible to receive benefits. Nationwide also alleged that plaintiff failed to disclose that he had eye surgery prior to the accident and that he is legally blind. Nationwide claimed that plaintiff violated the statute by knowingly submitting false statements in support of his claim for benefits.

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The trial court entered an order granting Nationwide’s motion for summary disposition.


A person commits a fraudulent insurance act when: (1) the person presents or causes to be presented an oral or written statement, (2) the statement is part of or in support of a claim for no-fault benefits, and (3) the claim for benefits was submitted to the MAIPF. Further, (4) the person must have known that the statement contained false information, and (5) the statement concerned a fact or thing material to the claim.


Finding no dispute that the two applications for benefits erroneously indicated that plaintiff had no preexisting medical conditions and had not sustained any prior injuries that might be relevant to his claim for benefits, Plaintiff’s deposition testimony and medical records ultimately revealed that between 2012 and 2019, he was treated for complications arising from the dog bite and for injuries sustained after someone struck him with a baseball bat, including a leg fracture. Additionally, it is undisputed that plaintiff is legally blind, which was not disclosed on either application. The October 4, 2019 application also noted that plaintiff was not eligible for social security benefits, which was ultimately determined to be a false statement.


Plaintiff’s medical records could be considered as evidence of fraud even though the medical records were obtained by Nationwide during discovery, the information contained in them concerned incidents that occurred well before plaintiff applied for PIP benefits through the MAIPF. Although such evidence would not directly show that plaintiff engaged in fraud, the medical records pertain to incidents that happened well before litigation commenced. Consequently, they were properly considered by the trial court as documentary evidence in support of Nationwide’s fraud assertion.

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Plaintiff signed the applications, suggesting that they must be considered his own. He argued that it is unclear whether he knew what he was signing, as he was legally blind at the time and would have needed someone to read the document to him.

Plaintiff’s medical records were not improperly considered as evidence of fraud. Moreover, since plaintiff signed the applications-particularly the November 4, 2019 application-and has provided no evidentiary proof to support the argument that he lacked the capacity to do so, that he did so by mistake, or that he was coerced or defrauded in this case, the trial court’s ruling was affirmed.

Even no-fault insurance statutes remove the right to benefits if the person seeking the benefits commits fraud in seeking the benefits. There is no question that the Plaintiff filed two applications for benefits that contained false statements. As a result, even though he was seriously injured, his fraudulent statements defeated his claim, proving that liars in Michigan will never prosper from the no-fault system.

(c) 2023 Barry Zalma & ClaimSchool, Inc.

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