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Monday, September 27, 1999

Cases affecting the following practice areas are summarized in today's e-Journal:

* Bankruptcy
* Criminal Law
* Employment & Labor Law
* Malpractice

Case Summaries

Bankruptcy

Issues: Willful and malicious injury for purposes of non-dischargability in bankruptcy (11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(6)); Collateral estoppel; Appellate jurisdiction (Fed. R. Bank. P. 8002(b) and 9023)
Court: U.S. Court of Appeals Sixth Circuit
Case Name: In re Markowitz
e-Journal Number: 5088

Under the new standard adopted by the Sixth Circuit in light of a recent Supreme Court ruling, summary judgment against the debtor in a bankruptcy adversary proceeding was vacated because the bankruptcy court utilized the old standard in holding that a judgment for legal malpractice was non-dischargeable. For a judgment debt to be non-dischargeable under § 523(a)(6), a deliberate or intentional injury is required, not merely a deliberate or intentional act that leads to injury. Unless the actor desires to cause the consequences of his act, or believes that the consequences are substantially certain to result from it, he has not committed a willful and malicious injury as defined by the bankruptcy code. Since neither the parties nor the bankruptcy court were aware of the proper standard or the proofs required under it, the case was remanded for further proceedings.

Full Text Opinion


Criminal Law

Issues: Confession; Right to speedy trial (MCL 780.131(1); MSA 28.969(1)(1))
Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished)
Case Name: People v. Hooper
e-Journal Number: 5091

The trial court did not err when it denied defendant's motion to suppress his confession. The trial court chose to accept the police officer's version of events regarding the circumstances surrounding defendant's statement. Since defendant was brought to trial 133 days after the prosecutor received notice of his presence within the Department of Corrections, there was no 180-day rule violation. Although there were two trial adjournments that were not caused by the prosecutor, defendant never moved to dismiss the case based on the delay and failed to show that the delay prejudiced him.

Full Text Opinion


Issues: Search and seizure; Valid arrest
Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished)
Case Name: People v. Stuckey
e-Journal Number: 5093

Based on the totality of the circumstances, the drugs found in a vehicle defendant was driving were properly seized incident to a valid arrest. The circuit court improperly suppressed the evidence and dismissed the charges. A police officer pulled defendant over after ascertaining that the car he was driving belonged to a woman with two outstanding warrants. The officer arrested the defendant for failure to have a driver's license then searched the vehicle and found a quantity of cocaine. Knowledge that the person who owned the vehicle had outstanding warrants justified the investigatory stop. The fact that defendant did not have a license led to his arrest and the subsequent search of the car. The scope of the detention was reasonable because: (1) it was reasonable for the officer to request defendant's identification because he knew the owner was a female, (2) it was reasonable to question the defendant to determine if his use of the vehicle was authorized and (3) the female passenger could have been the woman with the outstanding warrants.

Full Text Opinion


Issues: Motion to hold petition for writ of habeas corpus (28 U.S.C. § 2254) in abeyance; Exceptional or unusual circumstances; Successive state post-conviction motions as tolling the one year period of limitations in the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA); Motions for relief from judgment (MCR 6.502(G)(1) and (2))
Court: U.S. District Court Eastern District of Michigan
Case Name: Hudson v. Martin
e-Journal Number: 5090

Petitioner's motion to stay proceedings and hold his petition for habeas corpus in abeyance while he filed a second motion for relief from judgment was denied and his petition dismissed without prejudice because he failed to allege any exceptional or unusual circumstances that justified staying the proceedings. A second or successive state post-conviction motion would toll the AEDPA's statute of limitations. While the Michigan court rules generally allow only one post-conviction motion for relief from judgment, a second or subsequent motion is allowed based on a claim of new evidence that was not discovered before the first motion. The court could not state conclusively that the Michigan courts would automatically reject the petitioner's motion for a new trial because the Michigan courts had not yet indicated whether "new evidence" would include newly discovered evidence of ineffective assistance of counsel.

Full Text Opinion


Employment & Labor Law

Issues: The Equal Pay Act (29 U.S. C. § 206 (d)); Wage discrimination
Court: U.S. District Court Western District of Michigan
Case Name: Geerts v. II Stanley Co., Inc.
e-Journal Number: 5089

Summary judgment for the defendant-employer was granted because it met its burden of providing a bona fide nondiscriminatory basis for the $1000 pay differential in the starting salaries between the plaintiff-employee and a male employee who held an equivalent position. The defendant established that the male employee had more experience with customer service, asked for a higher salary, had a higher salary history, and had graduated from a community college. Also important to the court's decision that the difference in starting salaries was based on factors unrelated to sex was the fact that the defendant 's method for calculating starting salaries depended upon whether the candidate was hired from outside the company or internally promoted from an hourly position. Here, the male employee was hired to fill a vacant position in a tight job market and plaintiff was hired in anticipation of future need.

Full Text Opinion


Malpractice

Issues: Legal malpractice; Collateral estoppel; Summary disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(8)
Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished)
Case Name: Schmidt Bagel Creations, Inc. v. Schwartz
e-Journal Number: 5092

The decision of an arbitration panel against the individual plaintiff on the underlying claim precluded plaintiffs from relitigating the issue of the individual plaintiff's liability on the underlying claim, so summary disposition for the defendant-attorney and his law firm was properly granted. Plaintiffs could not show either that they would have prevailed had the common law arbitration been waived in favor of litigating the underlying claim in circuit court, or even that a more favorable verdict would have been obtained. In addition, plaintiff-Schmidt Bagel Creations was not a party to the underlying arbitration proceeding and did not incur any legally enforceable liability as a result of defendants' alleged malpractice.

Full Text Opinion


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