This summary also appears under Business Law
Issues: Tortious interference with a contract or contractual relations and tortious interference with a business relationship or expectancy claims; Health Call of Detroit v. Atrium Home & Health Care Servs., Inc.; CMI Int'l, Inc. v. Intermet Int'l Corp.; Feldman v. Green; Prysak v. R L Polk Co.; Dalley v. Dykema Gossett PLLC; Trepel v. Pontiac Osteopathic Hosp.; Knight Enters., Inc. v. RPF Oil Co.; Meyering v. Russell; Bahr v. Miller Bros. Creamery; Hutton v. Roberts; Jim-Bob, Inc. v. Mehling; American Product Machining (APM)
Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished)
Case Name: Datam Mfg., LLC v. Magna Powertrain USA, Inc.
e-Journal Number: 56446
Judge(s): Per Curiam – Stephens, Wilder, and Owens
The court held that the trial court erred in concluding that the plaintiff-Datam established its tortious interference with a contract or contractual relations and tortious interference with a business relationship or expectancy claims. The facts found by the trial court failed as a matter of law to establish that the defendant-Magna unjustifiably instigated non-party Huifeng's breach of its contract with Datam or that Magna intentionally induced a breach or termination of Datam's business relationship or expectancy with Huifeng or non-party APM. Datam alleged that Magna tortuously interfered with Datam's contractual relationship and business expectancy related to the purchase of auto parts from Huifeng, a supplier in China. The dispute arose from the parties' competing efforts to purchase Huifeng's residual inventory of unsold parts. On appeal, Magna argued that the trial court erred in concluding that Datam established the elements of its tortious interference claims. The court agreed. It held that for tortuous interference with a contract, the "act of making a competing offer is not per se a wrongful act, but a wrongful act can be established if the evidence shows the competing offer was made with malice, ill motivation, or unlawful purpose." The trial court's factual findings failed to establish "that Magna improperly interfered in Datam's contractual or business relationship with Huifeng or APM. The trial court found that Magna knew an unnamed agent of APM was attempting to purchase the residual inventory parts from Huifeng, Magna issued a purchase order to APM for the parts, and Magna then continued to negotiate independently with Huifeng for the same parts, ultimately reaching an agreement with Huifeng to acquire the parts." Because Magna did not challenge the trial court's factual findings, the court accepted as true the finding that Magna knew of Datam's contract and relationship with Huifeng and APM. "Such knowledge by itself, however, does not provide a basis for imposing liability." Magna did not commit an "inherently wrongful act or an affirmative act corroborating an unlawful purpose for its actions. At most, Magna ‘outbid and outmaneuvered' Datam in purchasing the parts from Huifeng" - such conduct by itself failed to corroborate an improper motive. There was "no evidence that Magna did anything that was illegal, unethical, or fraudulent to induce or coerce Huifeng into selling the parts to Magna rather than Datam." Magna's issuance of a purchase order for the same parts to APM also did "not constitute an improper interference into Datam's contract or relationship with Huifeng or APM. The trial court failed to articulate how issuing a purchase order to APM instigated a breach of Datam's contract with Huifeng or otherwise interfered in the relationship." Reversed and remanded for entry of a judgment of no cause of action in Magna's favor.
This summary also appears under Litigation
Issues: Civil suit arising from a custody battle; Judicial disqualification; MCR 2.003(D)(1) & (2); MCR 2.003(C)(1)(b); Caperton v. Massey; Disqualification of an entire county bench; Special Wayne Prosecutor v. Recorder's Court Judges; People v. Kilpatrick; Claims against the defendant-court clerk; Judicial immunity; Maiden v. Rozwood; "Quasi-judicial immunity"; Diehl v. Danuloff; Martin v. Swihart; Huffer v. Bogen (Unpub. 6th Cir.); Johnson v. Turner (6th Cir.); Brown v. Glasser (6th Cir.); Claims against the defendants-school principal and school district; Governmental immunity; MCL 691.1407; Intentional tort claims against the principal; Odom v. Wayne Cnty.; Whether the principal's actions fell within the scope of her authority; Claims against the defendant-father; Arrests based on "probable cause"; Whether the father had authority to enroll the child at a particular school; Alleged instigation of pretextual traffic stops; MCR 2.116(G)(4); Friend of the Court (FOC)
Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished)
Case Name: Deveroux v. Tucker
e-Journal Number: 56453
Judge(s): Per Curiam – Gleicher, Saad, and Fort Hood
Holding that the trial court correctly determined that the defendants-school principal, school district, and court clerk were protected by governmental and quasi-judicial immunity, and that there was no issue of material fact as to the plaintiff's claims against defendant-Tucker, the court affirmed the trial court's order granting the defendants summary disposition. Further, the trial court properly denied plaintiff's motion to disqualify the entire county's circuit court bench. The case arose from "a long, contentious custody battle" between plaintiff and Tucker, the father of her child. She alleged that he engaged "in an ongoing course of action to harass her and interfere with her parental rights." The court noted that plaintiff "filed her disqualification motion 21 days late and failed to establish good cause to circumvent the filing deadline requirement." She also did not comply with MCR 2.003(D)(2)'s affidavit requirement. Thus, the trial court could have denied her motion on purely procedural grounds. However, it instead properly denied the motion on the merits. There "is no precedent requiring that an entire bench disqualify itself simply because the employee of one judge is a party to the action." The judge who employed the clerk "was not assigned to plaintiff's separate civil action, greatly reducing the risk of bias." And the individual judges tasked with deciding motions in this case considered their own relationship with the clerk before proceeding. As to plaintiff's claims that the clerk improperly handled an ex parte order, the court concluded that the clerk was protected by judicial immunity. While the court "has not had the opportunity to consider the immunity available to court or judicial clerks in a published opinion, there is support from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals for this proposition." Plaintiff alleged that the principal interfered with her relationship with her child, refused to remove the child from school when presented with plaintiff's improperly obtained ex parte order, and communicated to plaintiff's counsel and a FOC referee in a way that placed plaintiff in a negative light. Her claims against the school district were for vicarious liability. The court concluded that these defendants also enjoyed immunity for their actions. The school district is a governmental agency and the conduct challenged by plaintiff related to the management of its district - a governmental function. The court analyzed the intentional tort claims against the principal under Odom and held that her actions "clearly fell within the scope of her authority." As to the claims against Tucker, the court concluded, among other things, that "the evidence established as a matter of law" that he was permitted to enroll the child in the school district, pursuant to a consent order in the custody case.
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