This summary also appears under Litigation
Issues: Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA)(MCL 333.26421 et seq.); Use of more common spelling of "marijuana"; Ter Beek v. City of Wyoming; Whether a party is entitled to seek declaratory relief; MCR 2.605(A)(1); International Union, UAW of Am. v. Central MI Univ. Trs.; Lansing Sch. Educ. Ass'n v. Lansing Bd. of Educ.; Manuel v. Gill; "Actual controversy"; Anglers of AuSable, Inc. v. Department of Envt'l Quality; Shavers v. Attorney Gen.; City of Lake Angelus v. Aeronautics Comm'n; Allstate Ins. Co. v. Hayes; Kircher v. City of Ypsilanti; Immunity under the MMMA; MCL 333.26424(a); People v. Koon; "Medical purpose" of marijuana; People v. Bylsma
Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished)
Case Name: Lott v. City of Birmingham
e-Journal Number: 56404
Judge(s): Per Curiam – Servitto, Murray, and Boonstra
The court held that although the trial court erred in finding that there was no actual controversy for it to decide, the error was harmless because the underlying issues have since been decided in Ter Beek. Plaintiffs sought a declaratory judgment that the defendant-city's ordinances were partially invalid "because they conflicted with the MMMA by, in effect, prohibiting and penalizing activity that is contrary to federal law, thereby making it illegal for them to use medical marijuana in their home." The trial court denied any declaratory relief based on its determination that there was no actual controversy for it to decide. On appeal, the court concluded that the trial court erred in finding that the impact of the ordinances on plaintiffs would be hypothetical because the MMMA provides sufficient guidance to allow them to determine whether their medical marijuana use complies with the MMMA, and that the MMMA would not shield plaintiffs from a federal prosecution. "Because the trial court failed to consider the penalties established by [the ordinance] for a violation of [defendant's] code of ordinances, and failed to address whether the penalty provision presented an actual controversy, despite the parties' dispute whether it could be enforced in light of the parties' differing preemption arguments, the trial court erred in determining that there was no actual controversy." It noted that plaintiff-R "had pleaded and established an adverse interest necessitating the sharpening of the issue raised," and it was not necessary for him to wait for an actual arrest for violating the ordinance to seek declaratory relief. However, the court rejected R's argument that the merits of his request for declaratory relief should be decided on appeal, noting that the issues underlying the controversy have since been addressed in Ter Beek. The "decision in Ter Beek should provide adequate guidance for plaintiff[‘s] future conduct with respect to [defendant's] ability to enforce its ordinance's penalty provision, thus, the trial court's erroneous determination that there was no actual controversy is harmless." Affirmed.
This summary also appears under Contracts
Issues: Claim that the defendant-county building authority breached the parties' contract by failing to provide written notice of the contract's termination; Whether a "Satisfaction and Release Agreement" (SRA) satisfied the notice provision; Contract interpretation; Alpha Capital Mgmt., Inc. v. Rentenbach; Admissibility of the SRA; MRE 408; Covenant of "good faith and fair dealing"; JR Watkins Co. v. Rich; Burkhardt v. City Nat'l Bank of Detroit; Hubbard Chevrolet Co. v. General Motors Corp. (5th Cir.); Effect of express contract terms; Cook v. Little Caesar Enters., Inc.; Effect of defendant's status as a public entity
Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished)
Case Name: Parlovecchio Bldg., Inc. v. Charter Cnty. of Wayne Bldg. Auth.
e-Journal Number: 56462
Judge(s): Per Curiam – Gleicher, Saad, and Fort Hood
Holding that the SRA the defendant-county building authority sent the plaintiff satisfied the notice of termination provision in the parties' contract, the court affirmed the trial court's order granting defendant summary disposition. Defendant hired plaintiff to serve as the "owner's representative" on a construction project. The parties' contract permitted defendant, as the "Owner," to "terminate the contract whenever he/she determines in his/her sole discretion that such termination is in the best interest of the Owner." To effectuate termination, the contract required "delivery to the [owner's representative] of a written notice of termination." Six months after ratifying the contract, defendant terminated it. Plaintiff sued, claiming that defendant breached the contract by failing to provide written notice of the termination, and by discontinuing it in bad faith. Plaintiff unsuccessfully argued on appeal that the SRA constituted an inadmissible offer to settle rather than formal notice of the contract's termination. "While MRE 408 precludes the introduction of settlement offers to prove liability or damages, it 'does not require exclusion when the evidence is offered for another purpose, such as proving bias or prejudice of a witness, negativing a contention of undue delay, or proving an effort to obstruct a criminal investigation or prosecution.'" Defendant proffered the SRA for the purpose of demonstrating notice. Because this was not a prohibited purpose under the rule, the court found no merit in plaintiff's claim that defendant breached the contract by failing to provide written notice of its termination. Plaintiff also argued that defendant was obligated to exercise good faith when terminating a contract under a "sole discretion" clause, and that material fact questions as to its motivation for terminating the contract precluded summary disposition. Plaintiff asserted that an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing limited defendant's "ability to terminate the contract in its 'sole discretion,' particularly because public sector parties may not dishonor contractual obligations without cause." However, the court noted that a background covenant of good faith and fair dealing "cannot override a clear and unambiguous contractual provision." Further, defendant's status as a public entity did not change "this equation. While federal law places some limitations on the government's right to terminate a contract, no similar rule has been adopted in Michigan."
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