Wayne County Circuit Court
Hon. Daniel Hathaway
Published or Unpublished Decision:
Trial started on April 2, 2018 and went four days.
Defendants – Hewson & Van Hellemont: Kelli Bennett and Amber Cervantez
Plaintiff – Michigan Advocacy Center, PLLC: Matt Bedikian
Type of Action:
First-party No-Fault and Uninsured Motorist
Plaintiff Hamell’s PIP claim: $29,797.76
Plaintiff Hamell’s UM claim: $57,500.00 ($100,000 policy)
Plaintiff Love’s PIP claim: $17,720.65
Plaintiff Love’s UM claim: $47,500.00 ($100,000 policy)
- Did Mr. Hamell and/or Ms. Love commit fraud in the presentation of their claims for uninsured motorist benefits to State Farm?
- Was Mr. Hamell in a motor vehicle accident? If so, was he injured and did the injury arise out of the motor vehicle accident?
- Was Ms. Love in a motor vehicle accident?
Summary of Trial:
Plaintiffs were claiming no-fault and uninsured motorist benefits, for back injuries they allegedly sustained in an August 12, 2015, hit-and-run accident. Their claims included medical benefits, wage loss, replacement services and pain and suffering.
Plaintiffs relied on the testimony of Dr. Sinan who they treated with for a short time after the accident. Dr. Sinan related Mr. Hamell’s complaints of pain, tenderness and lumbar MRI findings to the accident. He also prescribed physical therapy and disabled him from work. Dr. Sinan also related Ms. Love’s complaints of pain and tenderness to the accident and prescribed physical therapy. Ms. Love did not have an MRI, and the Court ultimately granted State Farm’s motion for directed verdict for her uninsured motorist claim because there was no evidence that she sustained a serious impairment.
State Farm denied Plaintiffs’ claims for fraud. At trial, State Farm relied heavily on the inconsistent EUO, deposition and trial testimony among Plaintiffs, service providers and employers. For example, Mr. Hamell and Ms. Love had different stories about where she was picked up from before the accident and what happened immediately after the accident. Ms. Love’s service provider testified that she learned about the accident three days after it happened, yet submitted a form indicating that she performed four different chores on the day of the accident. Mr. Hamell testified that his friend provided replacement services at his house in Warren the month after the accident. However, Mr. Hamell’s sister testified that he lived with her in River Rouge, and that she saw his friend come over to her house and perform chores. In addition to the numerous inconsistencies, State Farm relied on testimony from Dr. Charles Funk who performed a collision damage analysis. After performing a vehicle inspection and EDR download, Dr. Funk concluded that the accident could not have occurred as stated by Mr. Hamell.
In the end, the jury found that there were just too many inconsistencies and returned three verdicts in favor of State Farm.
No cause. After approximately 40 minutes of deliberation, the jury unanimously found that Mr. Hamell committed fraud in his claim for uninsured motorist benefits. The jury found that Mr. Hamell was in a motor vehicle accident, was injured but that the injury did not arise out of the motor vehicle accident. Lastly, the jury unanimously found that Ms. Love was not in a motor vehicle accident.