Father of Stony Creek crash victim seeks insurance for car owner – Macomb Daily

The estate of a teenager killed in a triple fatal crash at Stony Creek Metropark is asking the state Supreme Court to reinstate its case against an insurance company in an attempt to win a $475,000 judgment.

Attorney Sima Patel, representing Gregory Wells for the estate of the late Michael Wells, and attorney Paul Hudson, attorney for State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., debated on Thursday whether the state Supreme Court should grant the request of Wells to appeal previous decisions. They pleaded the case remotely and showed by video in front of the High Court.

The May 2015 crash at Washington Township Park killed three people and injured two boys.

The plaintiff in a separate lawsuit obtained a $475,000 consent judgment from Gregory Bobchick Sr. and Dawn Bobchick regarding the couple supplying alcohol to minors in their Shelby Township home before the crash. Each of the five occupants had blood alcohol levels between 0.024% and 0.086%, police said.

The plaintiff says State Farm should pay the judgment because the incident was an accident.

“We’re trying to get them (State Farm) to provide coverage under the Bobchicks’ insurance policy,” Patel said after the arguments.

She argues that the case was dismissed prematurely by Macomb Circuit Court Judge Edward Servitto, whose decision was upheld by the State Court of Appeals, at State Farm’s request.

Stony Creek crash victims. Bobchick and Narra survived.MACOMB DAILY FILE IMAGE

During arguments, Patel argued that the Bobchicks could not foresee that their conduct would result in an accident. She said there was a “disconnect” between the supply of alcohol to minors and the accident.

“The consequences that occurred were of a different type and nature than what was intended,” she said. “This does not fall within the scope of intentional behavior.

“The direct result of providing alcohol to minors is intoxicated minors. And that could have certain consequences. You could have minors who have had alcohol poisoning or some other physical illness because of their condition But the fact that the minors collected the keys, went for a walk and had an accident is two sets close to the intentional actions of the insured.

Hudson, however, argued for State Farm that even if it was an accident, the home insurance policy doesn’t cover it, calling the motor vehicle exclusion “very simple, straightforward.”

“Home insurance policies do not cover automobile accidents; that’s what auto policies are for,” Hudson said.

Judge Brian Zahra noted that Servitto had not ruled on the issue of self-exclusion and questioned whether State Farm could “preserve” that issue and defend it.

Hudson said State Farm raised the issue at the trial court level, so it was being held for discussion.

The Jaguar S-Type that crashed into Stony Creek at Stony Creek Metropark in Washington Township in 2015, killing three teenagers. MACOMB DAILY FILE PHOTO

Still, Hudson took issue with Patel’s accident allegation “even though the owner clearly had no intention of causing a car accident.”

“Giving alcohol to minors is not an accident in the sense of a home insurance policy,” he said. “The owner here unquestionably knowingly supplied alcohol to minors in his home, and there was a direct risk of harm to the intentional act of that harm, the consequences of which the owner should reasonably have expected, which they (the minors) would drive into drunk and have an accident. ”

In addition to Wells, 17, of Macomb Township, Jonathan Manolios, 17, of Sterling Heights; Emanuel ‘Manny’ Malaj, 17, of Sterling Heights, died in the crash on May 8, 2015. Gregory Bobchick Jr., now 24, and Joseph Narra, also 24, were injured. Bobchick Jr. and Narra pleaded guilty to a charge of minor in possession, a misdemeanor.

Sheriff’s investigators determined the black Jaguar S-Type was traveling 62-72 mph in a 35 mph zone on the wrong side of Park Road when it crashed into a guardrail, rolled five times and crashed plunged into Stony Creek, southwest of Stony Creek Lake. South dam.

Only Bobchick, who was wearing a seatbelt, was not ejected.

A 12-pack of Corona beers, a pint of Crown Royal whiskey and a pint of rum were found in the Jaguar.

Manolios’ father, George, representing himself and his son’s estate, won a $6 million judgment against the Bobchicks in 2019, but it’s unclear whether he was paid. Monolios attorney Vincent Lorelli said he could not comment.

The Manolios lawsuit also resulted in settlements with Narra and an insurance company, but the amounts were not announced, according to court records.

Both of Manolios’ parents, George and Susan, also sued the county sheriff’s office for naming their son a driver. Manolios’ attorney said Prudential Life Insurance, which was initially reluctant to pay a claim to the estate, eventually paid the family after determining Manolios was not the driver, U.S. District Linda Parker said in her decision dismissing the case.

Patel also argued that the High Court should return the case to the Circuit Court as many facts surrounding the case have not been determined, such as who owned and who drove the Jaguar.

“The motor vehicle exclusion applies to vehicles that are owned and operated by the household, I believe,” Patel said. “If you look at the pleadings themselves, it hasn’t been fleshed out. So I think a reference is necessary because there is a question of fact.

Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham in July 2015 explains the results of his department’s investigation into the crash.MACOMB DAILY FILE PHOTO

The consent judgment does not make factual determinations on these issues.

“These are always factual issues that need to be fleshed out in discovery in this case,” she said.

Judge Megan Cavanagh’s remarks to Hudson appeared to support Patel’s argument.

“We don’t know the facts underlying the knowingly supplied alcohol and whether the crash was a direct result of that,” Cavnagh said. “Maybe they (the Bobchicks) locked away all the keys, they locked the door, set the alarms. These children were not going to leave. They knowingly provided alcohol, but this is not necessarily a conclusion that an accident would have been the direct result of their conduct. What if there was no way to get a car? »

Chief Justice Bridget McCormack said the information that Gregory Bobchick Jr. was in the car “appears to be relevant” to this case.

“The funky fact here is that there is yet another intentional and illegal act by another insured between serving the alcohol and the car accident,” she said.

But Hudson countered: ‘The only fact we need, frankly, is whether they knowingly provided alcohol to minors, because that in itself creates a direct risk of harm. Then they must reasonably expect all the consequences, so we don’t need to expand the facts further here.

He said the Bobchicks took $100,000 from their auto insurance policy because they owned the vehicle and “they considered it the son’s car.”

“There is no relevant dispute of fact here,” he said.


Source link

Justin D. O'Neill