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Jason R. Mathers and Kimberly A. Kardasz Win at Court of Appeals Expanding Michigan Case Law on Discrimination Defense to Private Entities Providing Non-Emergency Medical Transportation

Jesse Davis v. Ace Transportation, et al., Wayne County Circuit Court, Case no. 2020-016390-NF; 2024 WL 396610 (Mich. App. 2024). This personal injury case arose out of a motor vehicle accident involving non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT.) The plaintiff, who has been a paraplegic since 2002, was injured when the medical transportation van he was riding in stopped abruptly, throwing him from his wheelchair as a result of him not being secured to the wheelchair. Previously, the law in Seldon v. SMART, 297 Mich App 427 (2012), holding that there was no separate duty, absent a written company policy, to provide or offer additional safety harness equipment for handicapped passengers, applied only to public transportation.  In this case, we successfully argued that the same logic and rationale for the discrimination defense afforded a public bus applies equally to private businesses. The Court agreed that a different rule of law would operate to discriminate against the disabled passenger in violation of the ADA.  This was the first court of appeals case on this issue and a most important decision for our insurance clients and their insureds as it makes clear that Seldon applies to both public (e.g. a SMART bus) and private transportation companies.