Justice Michael F. Cavanagh receives Judicial Lifetime Achievement Award at CPAN Gala
My 40‑year career as a Judge in the Michigan appellate courts has paralleled the birth and the subsequent maturation of the Michigan Auto No‑Fault Insurance law. The two of us have literally grown up together. During that 40‑year period, I have watched this law develop from a controversial legal concept into a comprehensive injury reparations system that is not only unique to Michigan, but is something that has consistently earned national acclaim. During my many years as a judge, I have participated in cases where I have witnessed first-hand how the Michigan auto no-fault system has provided the structure within which lives shattered by catastrophic injury were rebuilt and made productive once again. Without the vast resources that are harnessed by this special law, and without its clearly intended purpose of fully serving the patients it was designed to benefit, many of those precious lives would have been destroyed.
However, any comprehensive legislative scheme that is as bold as the Michigan Auto No‑Fault Act was designed to be is bound to draw the criticism and opposition of powerful special interests that would be benefitted by a reduction in its scope or by its outright elimination. Therefore, those individuals and organizations who sincerely wish to protect and perpetuate this unique system must rise to the formidable challenges that such threats present. Up until CPAN was created 10 years ago, there was no single purpose, broad‑based, bipartisan organization that could take on the great responsibility of preserving the original Michigan no‑fault law and protecting the rights of the thousands of patients it serves. That is why I believe the citizens of Michigan owe a deep debt of gratitude to CPAN for its willingness to perform that most important role.
During the last 10 years, CPAN has acquired a formidable presence in the public sector regarding matters dealing with the Michigan auto no‑fault law. I could not express this point any better than did Republican Representative Gail Haines from the 43 rd District, when she recently stated, and I quote:
"CPAN has emerged as a knowledgeable, well respected, credible, bipartisan voice that policy makers and the public can trust regarding matters dealing with the Michigan Auto No‑Fault System."
The existence of CPAN has also been a great benefit to the Michigan appellate courts. Over the last 10 years, CPAN’s legal team has filed nearly 30 amicus curiae briefs in the Michigan Supreme Court and in the Michigan Court of Appeals in a number of important cases dealing with the interpretation of the Michigan No‑Fault Act. I cannot over‑emphasize how helpful that effort has been for Michigan judges. These CPAN amicus briefs are often times able to analyze the legal issues in a manner that is more global and socially relevant than the actual litigants are able to do in their case specific briefs. As a result, these amicus briefs have provided our judges with very important perspectives regarding the interpretation of this law. I can also tell you that these CPAN amicus briefs have been exceptionally well written. Therefore, all CPAN members should be proud of your organization’s impressive amicus campaign and you should commit yourself to its continuation.
In spite of all that CPAN has done over the last 10 years, I am sure you are well aware that your work is just beginning. The battles you will be fighting in the months and years ahead, both legislatively and judicially, will only intensify. Therefore, if you want your mission to be successful, you must re‑commit yourselves, your resources, and your members to the task at hand. Your organization is indeed historic and so is its work. That is why I am deeply honored to receive this award from you this evening.
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