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Providing summaries of opinions as they are released from the Michigan Supreme Court, Michigan Court of Appeals (published & unpublished), and selected U.S. Sixth Circuit. Over 60,000 cases summarized to date.

 

 

Case Summary

Includes a summary of one Michigan Supreme Court opinion under Criminal Law.


Cases appear under the following practice areas:

  • Bankruptcy (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 77178
    Case: In re Dougherty-Kelsay
    Court: U.S. Bankruptcy Appellate Panel Sixth Circuit ( Opinion )
    Judges: Price Smith, Dales, and Mashburn
    Issues:

    Violations of the automatic stay; Whether a Family Court hearing was excepted from the stay because it was for the purpose of establishing & modifying a domestic-support obligation; 11 USC § 362(b)(2)(A)(ii); Whether contempt proceedings in the Family Court violated the stay; Amendment of a garnishment order to pay an additional domestic support obligation; § 362(b)(2)(C); Interception of a tax refund to collect support obligations; § 362(b)(2)(F)

    Summary:

    The Bankruptcy Appellate Panel held that the purpose of the Creditor’s (the Debtor’s ex-husband) second contempt motion was to compel her “to pay pre-petition arrearages under threat of sanction for civil contempt.” Thus, the Family Court’s judgment finding her in contempt violated the stay and was void. Further, his third contempt motion, filed after the bankruptcy petition was filed, “violated the stay as a forbidden commencement of a judicial proceeding to enforce a pre-petition obligation.” Under a pre-petition Family Court order, Debtor and Creditor were to “split the cost of medical care and extra-curricular activities for” their children. He was seeking reimbursement for her share of these expenses when she filed for bankruptcy. Post-petition, the Family Court conducted a hearing on his “request for payment, made findings on the obligation due and payment of the obligation, and found Debtor in contempt of a prior order. Debtor filed a motion” in the bankruptcy court seeking sanctions for violation of the automatic stay. The bankruptcy court “found that some actions violated the automatic stay and awarded attorneys’ fees as actual damages and punitive damages.” The Panel concluded that the Family Court’s hearing establishing the amount Debtor owed Creditor, its order of payment via “wage garnishment, and Creditor’s subsequent payment by way of” tax refund intercepts “would not have been stayed under § 362 because exceptions under § 362(b) are applicable to each action.” The hearing was held to establish and modify “a domestic support obligation and was excepted from the automatic stay.” Further, the judgment for “$1,270.66 was the establishment of a domestic support obligation” and not a violation of the stay. Likewise, the judgment “directing the additional domestic support obligation to be paid through garnishment of Debtor’s wages, effected by amending the garnishment order in place, was not a violation of the stay.” But because the judgment did not limit collection of an initial $50 Payment for her domestic support obligation (to be made directly to the Creditor) “from funds that were not property of the estate, that portion of the judgment violated the stay and is void. Similarly, Creditor’s attempts to collect the $50 and” a pre-petition medical expense “were not limited to funds that were not property of the estate.” Thus, his attempts to collect these debts violated the stay. There was no applicable exception. Affirmed.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Criminal Law (2)

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 77239
    Case: People v. White
    Court: Michigan Supreme Court ( Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam - McCormack, Zahra, Viviano, Clement, Cavanagh, and Welch; Dissent – Bernstein
    Issues:

    Correct venue for a prosecution under an aiding & abetting theory; MCL 767.39; People v Robinson; People v McBurrows

    Summary:

    Holding that the county where the principal’s criminal act occurred is a proper venue for a prosecution under an aiding and abetting theory, the court affirmed the Court of Appeals’ ruling that venue here was proper in Livingston County. Defendant was charged with delivery of a controlled substance causing death. It was not alleged that he directly delivered anything to the decedent, W; rather, the prosecution alleged that he aided and abetted another man’s (H) delivery of the drugs to W. He moved to dismiss based on improper venue. The trial court denied the motion but stayed the proceedings pending appeal. “The Court of Appeals granted defendant’s application for an interlocutory appeal, but” affirmed the trial court’s decision. The court previously peremptorily reversed its determination that MCL 762.8 was an adequate basis for establishing venue here, and remanded for the Court of Appeals to assess an issue it had not reached. On remand, the Court of Appeals again affirmed the trial court, after “a careful, thorough, and accurate review of” the court’s decision in McBurrows. In concluding that the Court of Appeals was correct that venue was proper in Livingston County, the court began the analysis with the text of MCL 767.39, the aiding and abetting statute. The prosecution alleged that H delivered a controlled substance to W “in Livingston County which he consumed, causing his death. Therefore, it would be proper to prosecute [H] for that offense in Livingston County. . . . And because defendant can ‘be prosecuted, indicted, [and] tried . . . as if he had directly committed’ [H’s] offense, Livingston County is also a proper venue for prosecuting defendant.” The court noted that its ruling went “no further than to say that, when accepting as true the allegations against defendant, venue is proper in Livingston County.” To the extent he challenged “whether there was probable cause to support the bindover to circuit court on” the aiding and abetting theory, “the Court of Appeals was correct to hold that this is properly presented as a motion to quash in the circuit court.”

    Dissenting, Justice Bernstein concluded that Macomb County, where defendant’s actions occurred, was “the proper county for the prosecution of this offense under the general venue rule.” He did not believe that MCL 767.39 directed the outcome here, and disagreed “with the Court of Appeals’ conclusion that MCL 762.8 applied[.]” Thus, he would reverse the Court of Appeals’ judgment.

    Full Text Opinion

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 77184
    Case: People v. Eller
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Rick, O’Brien, and Cameron
    Issues:

    Adjournment; Directed verdict; “Operating” a vehicle for purposes of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated (OWI); Admission of a “Datamaster” machine & logs; Hearsay; “Business records” under MRE 803(6); “Missing-witness” jury instruction; Ineffective assistance of counsel; Agreeing that the trial court should reread the operating instruction to the jury; Sentencing; Upward departure; Accurate information; OWI third offense (OWI III); Operating a motor vehicle while license suspended (OWLS); Michigan State Police (MSP)

    Summary:

    The court concluded that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying defendant’s motion for an adjournment and motion for a directed verdict. Also, he failed to show that officers’ testimony improperly bolstered the accuracy of the Datamaster machine. And the log results were properly admitted under MRE 803(6). Further, his jury instruction issues did not require reversal, and he was not denied the ineffective assistance of counsel. Finally, the court rejected his sentencing challenges. He was convicted of OWI III, OWLS, and having an open alcoholic container in a motor vehicle. He was sentenced as a fourth-offense habitual offender to 6 to 20 years for OWI III; 93 days for OWLS; and 90 days for having an open alcoholic container in a motor vehicle. Defendant argued that the trial court abused its discretion by denying his motion for an adjournment before trial to investigate fraud allegations. The only evidence of the potential fraud that was before the trial “court—the statement from the MSP—demonstrated that the fraud related to certification records involved with the servicing of the Datamaster machines. The MSP’s statement explicitly provided that ‘the discrepancies do not directly impact or deal with the results of evidential breath tests.’” Also, his trial counsel told the trial court that “she believed that the MSP ‘would have certified [the Datamaster machine in this case] at this point in time,’ and she reiterated that the MSP had told her ‘that they did come and determine that the Saginaw Chippewa Datamaster that’s involved in this case wasn’t part of this fraudulent activity.’ Trial counsel further agreed with the trial court that counsel had been advised that the [MSP] have inspected and verified the instruments [and] that they are properly calibrated . . . .’” In short, the information before the trial “court when it denied defendant’s motion suggested that the Datamaster machine used in this case was not affected by the alleged fraud, and that, even if it was, that fraud did not affect the results of the evidential breath test. On the basis of this information, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying defendant’s motion for an adjournment.” Further, he failed to show how he was prejudiced. As to his motion for a directed verdict, an officer’s testimony that “defendant was the driver of the van was sufficient to support a finding that defendant was the driver of the van, and therefore operated” it. Affirmed.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Insurance (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    This summary also appears under Litigation

    e-Journal #: 77191
    Case: Archangel Physical Therapy, LLC v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co.
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam - O'Brien, Shapiro, and Boonstra
    Issues:

    Action for no-fault benefits pursuant to an assignment of rights; The one-year-back rule; MCL 500.3145(1); Equitable estoppel; Cincinnati Ins Co v Citizens Ins Co; Motion for reconsideration; MCR 2.119(F)(3)

    Summary:

    The court held that the trial court did not err by granting defendant-insurer summary disposition of plaintiff-physical therapy provider’s action seeking compensation for services it provided to defendant’s insured, who was injured in an auto accident. The insured had sued defendant in an earlier action seeking to recover unpaid PIP benefits. Plaintiff filed a notice of lien in that lawsuit and requested to receive information about the case evaluation. The insured and defendant accepted the case evaluation award. Plaintiff moved to reopen the insured’s case, but the trial court denied relief because it was not a party to that case. Plaintiff then filed this action, pursuant to an assignment of rights, seeking compensation from defendant for the services it provided to the insured. The trial court found that plaintiff’s claim was barred by the one-year back rule. On appeal, the court rejected plaintiff’s argument that the trial court erred because defendant should be equitably estopped from asserting the one-year back rule as a defense. Plaintiff argued that defendant’s conduct was designed to delay it from commencing a lawsuit, but “even when viewed in a light most favorable to” plaintiff, the evidence was insufficient to create a genuine issue of material fact. The court noted that plaintiff failed “to establish a genuine issue of material fact that [defendant] made representations intended to delay [plaintiff] from filing suit or that [plaintiff] justifiably relied on any representation by” defendant. The court also rejected plaintiff’s claim that the trial court erred by denying its motion for reconsideration. “Even if the trial court had agreed that estoppel could arise from communications regarding [plaintiff’s] decision to take its claims out of the insured’s suit, there is, as reviewed, no evidence establishing a question of fact that” defendant intended to induce plaintiff into doing so. “And the trial court did not err by concluding that the motion for reconsideration failed to raise an issue that had not already decided by the court in its initial ruling granting summary disposition.” Affirmed.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Litigation (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    This summary also appears under Insurance

    e-Journal #: 77191
    Case: Archangel Physical Therapy, LLC v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co.
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam - O'Brien, Shapiro, and Boonstra
    Issues:

    Action for no-fault benefits pursuant to an assignment of rights; The one-year-back rule; MCL 500.3145(1); Equitable estoppel; Cincinnati Ins Co v Citizens Ins Co; Motion for reconsideration; MCR 2.119(F)(3)

    Summary:

    The court held that the trial court did not err by granting defendant-insurer summary disposition of plaintiff-physical therapy provider’s action seeking compensation for services it provided to defendant’s insured, who was injured in an auto accident. The insured had sued defendant in an earlier action seeking to recover unpaid PIP benefits. Plaintiff filed a notice of lien in that lawsuit and requested to receive information about the case evaluation. The insured and defendant accepted the case evaluation award. Plaintiff moved to reopen the insured’s case, but the trial court denied relief because it was not a party to that case. Plaintiff then filed this action, pursuant to an assignment of rights, seeking compensation from defendant for the services it provided to the insured. The trial court found that plaintiff’s claim was barred by the one-year back rule. On appeal, the court rejected plaintiff’s argument that the trial court erred because defendant should be equitably estopped from asserting the one-year back rule as a defense. Plaintiff argued that defendant’s conduct was designed to delay it from commencing a lawsuit, but “even when viewed in a light most favorable to” plaintiff, the evidence was insufficient to create a genuine issue of material fact. The court noted that plaintiff failed “to establish a genuine issue of material fact that [defendant] made representations intended to delay [plaintiff] from filing suit or that [plaintiff] justifiably relied on any representation by” defendant. The court also rejected plaintiff’s claim that the trial court erred by denying its motion for reconsideration. “Even if the trial court had agreed that estoppel could arise from communications regarding [plaintiff’s] decision to take its claims out of the insured’s suit, there is, as reviewed, no evidence establishing a question of fact that” defendant intended to induce plaintiff into doing so. “And the trial court did not err by concluding that the motion for reconsideration failed to raise an issue that had not already decided by the court in its initial ruling granting summary disposition.” Affirmed.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Real Property (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 77189
    Case: Sgriccia v. Welsh
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Cavanagh, Markey, and Servitto
    Issues:

    Interpretation of a restrictive covenant; “Timber line”; Proper remedy; Equitable exceptions to the general enforcement rule; Webb v Smith (After Remand); Standing to enforce restrictive covenants

    Summary:

    The court held that the trial court did not clearly err in determining there was a line that “property owners were required to build behind and that the defendants’ home violated” it, or in ruling that the proper remedy was to tear down the part encroaching over that line. Further, plaintiffs, as owners of property benefited by the restrictive covenant, had standing to enforce it. The case arose from a dispute between neighbors in a subdivision located on a bay. In the declaration of covenants issued by the developer, ¶ 4 provided that no “buildings shall be constructed closer to the shore than the timber line along” the bay and not closer to a specified road than 50 feet. “Further, no building shall be constructed closer to the side lot than” 15 feet. The parties disputed the meaning of “timber line.” The court noted that the use of the two-word term “may have been intended to be interpreted differently than the recognized definitions for the single word ‘timberline.’” However, it determined that “the technical definition of ‘timber line,’ ‘timberline,’ or ‘tree line’ is not automatically dispositive of the claims” here and could not be considered in a vacuum. The “trial court did not err by considering the other provisions within the covenants to determine the intent of the developer. Aside from the timber line boundary, the rest of ¶ 4 establishes eastern, northern, and southern boundaries for a home built on a lot.” In addition, there was “no dispute that a home cannot be built directly on the shore, or that there is some kind of western boundary. As a result, the language of ¶ 4 is evidence of the developer’s intent to maintain the uniformity of the lots by mandating where a house could be built.” The declaration’s preamble “explained that the purpose of the restrictions was to keep the ‘lots desirable, uniform and suitable in architectural design.’” In light of the whole declaration and the covenants, “it was not erroneous for the trial court to determine that there was a ‘line’ in which houses were meant to be built behind, or at the very least, an area in each lot in which houses could be built.” As to the remedy, the trial court did not have to apply a balancing test, and while “removal may seem harsh, defendants were aware of the dispute and possible consequences early in the construction process.” Affirmed.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Termination of Parental Rights (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 77207
    Case: In re Taylor
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – O’Brien, Shapiro, and Boonstra
    Issues:

    Termination under § 19b(3)(c)(i); Reasonable reunification efforts

    Summary:

    Holding that § (c)(i) existed and the trial court did not err by finding that the DHHS made reasonable efforts to reunite respondent-mother with the child, the court affirmed termination of her parental rights. Respondent argued that the DHHS did not account for her sleeping disorder. While she maintained that “her sleep issues caused her to miss parenting-time visits, she did not testify that these issues affected her ability to participate and benefit from the other services offered to her.” The record demonstrated the DHHS provided relevant services to her, “but she either did not fully avail herself of the proffered services or failed to meaningfully benefit from them.” Also, as to § (c)(i), the court held that “after two years of services, respondent had failed to make meaningful progress on her mental health stability. And respondent’s alleged sleep disorder was a separate issue that had no bearing on whether the statutory grounds were met given our conclusion that reasonable reunification efforts were made.” Thus, the trial court did not clearly err by terminating her parental rights under § (c)(i).

    Full Text Opinion

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