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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summaries of opinions as they are released from the Michigan Supreme Court, Michigan Court of Appeals (published & unpublished), and selected U.S. Sixth Circuit.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


Cases appear under the following practice areas:

  • Attorneys (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 75280
    Case: J.G Wentworth, SSC, LP v. Morris
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Gleicher, Borrello, and Swartzle
    Issues:

    Attorney fees under the Revised Structured Settlement Protection Act (RSSPA) & MCR 3.603(E); MCL 691.1305(b)(ii); Reasonableness of attorney fees; Smith v Khouri; Pirgu v United Servs Auto Ass’n; Res judicata; Vanderwall v Midkiff

    Summary:

    The court held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion with respect to the attorney fees it ordered plaintiff-Wentworth to pay. Defendant-Morris created the problem in the underlying lawsuit by double-selling his rights to a $60,000 annuity payment. He first sold his rights to Wentworth and later sold them to defendant-RSL. Wentworth sued and the trial court found it was entitled to the full amount, but ordered Wentworth, RSL, and defendant-Extended to pay costs and reasonable attorney fees to defendants-General American and Integrity. After an appeal and remand, the trial court ordered them to pay significantly more attorney fees. It allocated 30% of the fees to Wentworth, and the remainder to RSL and Extended. On appeal, the court rejected Wentworth’s argument that the trial court did not have authority to assess fees against the company under the RSSPA. “Under the RSSPA’s fee-shifting provision, the trial court did not have discretion to exempt Wentworth completely from payment of attorney fees here. The act states, in relevant part, that ‘[t]he transferee’ (here, Wentworth) ‘is liable to the structured settlement obligor’ (General American) ‘and the annuity issuer’ (Integrity) for the ‘reasonable . . . attorney fees, arising from the structured settlement obligor’s and the annuity issuer’s compliance with the order of the court.’” In this context, it was “clear that ‘is liable’ means is—not may be—liable. Thus, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that Wentworth was liable for reasonable attorney fees under the RSSPA.” The court also rejected Wentworth’s claim that the trial court abused its discretion by allocating 30% of the fee award to Wentworth instead of allocating the entire fee award to RSL and Extended. “The trial court concluded that, as a factual matter, 30% was a reasonable estimate of the time and resources that General American and Integrity spent specifically on responding to Wentworth’s actions throughout the lawsuit. The estimate was a finding of fact,” and there was no error as to the estimate, “either by the original trial judge who made the determination or the subsequent trial judge on remand who retained it.” As such, it concluded that the trial court “made a reasoned and principled decision, based on the facts and the law, regarding how much attorney fees Wentworth should pay,” and did not abuse its discretion in doing so. Affirmed.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Criminal Law (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 75305
    Case: People v. Al-Saedi
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Jansen, Ronayne Krause, and Gadola
    Issues:

     Successive motion for relief from judgment; MCR 6.502(G)(1) & (2)

    Summary:

    The court reversed the order granting defendant’s successive motion for relief from judgment and remanded to the trial court for the limited purpose of reinstating his 2007 guilty plea and conviction to one count of accessory after the fact to the murder of victim-H. The prosecution contended that the trial court abused its discretion by allowing him to withdraw his plea. Specifically, it contended that defendant was procedurally barred from filing a second motion for relief from judgment. The court agreed. The trial court found that his 2019 motion for relief from judgment was a successive motion. Once it made that determination, it “was required to determine whether defendant met the initial threshold requirement for review under MCR 6.502(G)(2).” Specifically, it had “to determine whether the motion properly identified a retroactive change in the law or presented a claim of new evidence. If defendant failed to fulfill one of those exceptions to the general prohibition against successive motions for relief from judgment, the trial court was required to return the successive motion to defendant without filing.” The trial court found that his “successive motion did not properly identify a retroactive change in law or present a claim of new evidence that was not discovered before his motion filed in 2014.” Because of this, it was required to return without filing his successive motion. Instead, it analyzed his successive motion under MCR 6.508(D)(3). Defendant failed to meet either exception under MCR 6.502(G)(2) and thus, the trial court abused its discretion by granting his successive motion for relief from judgment. As a result, the issue whether he required an interpreter at the time of his plea hearing was moot. Nevertheless, the court reviewed the transcript of his 2007 plea. The record reflected that he “had command of the English language during his plea hearing, specifically when responding to questions posed by the trial court and explaining in detail what he did as an accessory to the murder of” H. Thus, the court was not convinced that he “lacked a clear understanding of his plea at the time it was made under oath to the trial court.”

    Full Text Opinion

  • Insurance (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    This summary also appears under Negligence & Intentional Tort

    e-Journal #: 75310
    Case: Davis v. Auto Owners Inc. Co.
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Gleicher, Borrello, and Swartzle
    Issues:

    First-party & third-party action for injuries sustained in an auto accident; The “arising under” causation requirement contained in MCL 500.3105(1); McPherson v McPherson; Reliability of expert testimony under MRE 702; MCL 600.2955; Daubert v Merrell Dow Pharm, Inc; Causation in a negligence action; Patrick v Turkelson; Recovery based on exacerbation of a preexisting condition; Wilkinson v Lee; Due process; Al-Maliki v LaGrant; Independent medical examination (IME); MCL 500.3151(2); Hearsay; MRE 801(c); Hearsay exception for records of regularly conducted business activity; MRE 803(6); People v Huyser; The “mend-the-hold” doctrine; CE Tackels, Inc v Fantin

    Summary:

    The court held that the trial court erred by rejecting the proposed testimony of plaintiff’s medical experts as unreliable without properly applying MRE 702 and MCL 600.2955(1), and without affording the parties an opportunity to brief this issue. It also held that the trial court erred by concluding that one of the experts was not qualified to perform an IME under MCL 500.3151. Finally, it held that intervening plaintiff-MSBS failed to show that the expert’s IME report constituted inadmissible hearsay, or that the trial court erred by failing to apply the mend-the-hold doctrine. Plaintiff sued defendants for injuries he allegedly sustained in an auto accident. The trial court granted summary disposition for defendants finding he failed to present “reliable” evidence that the accident caused his injuries. On appeal, the court held that summary disposition on causation grounds was improper for two reasons. First, “no evidence supported that the opinions of [the medical experts] were unreliable or inadmissible under MRE 702, and the trial court failed to offer any reasoning in support of its ruling.” Second, the trial court erred by granting summary disposition “based on a legal theory that had not been raised or briefed by any of the parties. Before deciding the case on ‘reliability’ grounds, basic due process principles compelled the court to afford” plaintiff and intervening plaintiff notice and an opportunity to be heard on this issue. The evidence submitted by plaintiff and MSBS established the existence of genuine issues of material fact regarding whether plaintiff’s injuries were causally related to the motor vehicle accident. The affidavits of plaintiff’s physicians easily satisfied the McPherson standard and “met the ‘arising under’ standard set forth in MCL 500.3105(1).” In addition, the evidence established genuine issues of material fact regarding how the accident occurred and whether plaintiff’s “injuries resulted from his operation or use of a motor vehicle that was more than simply fortuitous, coincidental, or ‘but for.’” Likewise, the evidence established genuine issues of material fact regarding whether the other driver’s conduct was the cause in fact of plaintiff’s injuries and the treatment provided by the doctors, and whether it was foreseeable that the other driver’s conduct would have harmed plaintiff. The court further noted that “[b]ecause the trial court’s ruling does not indicate that it considered any aspect of MRE 702 or ‘the range of indices of reliability listed in MCL 600.2955,’” it had no basis for deciding that the trial court properly performed its gatekeeping role. As such, its “reliability ruling was premature and based on an inadequate record.” Finally, the court affirmed the trial court’s ruling on the “mend-the-hold” doctrine. Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Negligence & Intentional Tort (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    This summary also appears under Insurance

    e-Journal #: 75310
    Case: Davis v. Auto Owners Inc. Co.
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Gleicher, Borrello, and Swartzle
    Issues:

    First-party & third-party action for injuries sustained in an auto accident; The “arising under” causation requirement contained in MCL 500.3105(1); McPherson v McPherson; Reliability of expert testimony under MRE 702; MCL 600.2955; Daubert v Merrell Dow Pharm, Inc; Causation in a negligence action; Patrick v Turkelson; Recovery based on exacerbation of a preexisting condition; Wilkinson v Lee; Due process; Al-Maliki v LaGrant; Independent medical examination (IME); MCL 500.3151(2); Hearsay; MRE 801(c); Hearsay exception for records of regularly conducted business activity; MRE 803(6); People v Huyser; The “mend-the-hold” doctrine; CE Tackels, Inc v Fantin

    Summary:

    The court held that the trial court erred by rejecting the proposed testimony of plaintiff’s medical experts as unreliable without properly applying MRE 702 and MCL 600.2955(1), and without affording the parties an opportunity to brief this issue. It also held that the trial court erred by concluding that one of the experts was not qualified to perform an IME under MCL 500.3151. Finally, it held that intervening plaintiff-MSBS failed to show that the expert’s IME report constituted inadmissible hearsay, or that the trial court erred by failing to apply the mend-the-hold doctrine. Plaintiff sued defendants for injuries he allegedly sustained in an auto accident. The trial court granted summary disposition for defendants finding he failed to present “reliable” evidence that the accident caused his injuries. On appeal, the court held that summary disposition on causation grounds was improper for two reasons. First, “no evidence supported that the opinions of [the medical experts] were unreliable or inadmissible under MRE 702, and the trial court failed to offer any reasoning in support of its ruling.” Second, the trial court erred by granting summary disposition “based on a legal theory that had not been raised or briefed by any of the parties. Before deciding the case on ‘reliability’ grounds, basic due process principles compelled the court to afford” plaintiff and intervening plaintiff notice and an opportunity to be heard on this issue. The evidence submitted by plaintiff and MSBS established the existence of genuine issues of material fact regarding whether plaintiff’s injuries were causally related to the motor vehicle accident. The affidavits of plaintiff’s physicians easily satisfied the McPherson standard and “met the ‘arising under’ standard set forth in MCL 500.3105(1).” In addition, the evidence established genuine issues of material fact regarding how the accident occurred and whether plaintiff’s “injuries resulted from his operation or use of a motor vehicle that was more than simply fortuitous, coincidental, or ‘but for.’” Likewise, the evidence established genuine issues of material fact regarding whether the other driver’s conduct was the cause in fact of plaintiff’s injuries and the treatment provided by the doctors, and whether it was foreseeable that the other driver’s conduct would have harmed plaintiff. The court further noted that “[b]ecause the trial court’s ruling does not indicate that it considered any aspect of MRE 702 or ‘the range of indices of reliability listed in MCL 600.2955,’” it had no basis for deciding that the trial court properly performed its gatekeeping role. As such, its “reliability ruling was premature and based on an inadequate record.” Finally, the court affirmed the trial court’s ruling on the “mend-the-hold” doctrine. Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Termination of Parental Rights (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 75299
    Case: In re Beacham
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Markey, Shapiro, and Gadola
    Issues:

    Termination under § 19b(3)(c)(i); Jurisdiction; Whether the no-contest plea constituted a violation of due process; Distinguishing In re Ferranti & In re Pederson; MCR 3.971(B)(4); Children’s best interests; Reasonable reunification efforts; In re Hicks/Brown

    Summary:

    The court concluded that respondent-mother’s no-contest plea was not a violation of due process, and “because any deviation that occurred did not affect” her substantial rights, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying the motion to withdraw the plea. Also, clear and convincing evidence established § (c)(i), and termination was in the children’s best interests. Finally, the reunification efforts made were more than reasonable and consistent with the principles espoused in Hicks/Brown. She challenged the trial court’s assumption of jurisdiction, claiming that it was based on a defective plea. Relying on Ferranti, she contended that “her due-process rights were violated because contrary to MCR 3.971(B)(4), she was not expressly advised that a consequence of her no-contest plea was that it could be used against respondent in later proceedings to terminate her parental rights.” Respondent also asserted “that her plea was induced by the false promise that her two older children would be returned to her care if she entered the plea.” The court distinguished from Ferranti and Pederson “in that respondent here was advised that her no-contest plea would be used for the purpose of establishing jurisdiction and providing the court with a basis to order her to participate in services.” Thus, the court held that “the adjudication was not tainted because of a failure to comply with MCR 3.971(B)(4); respondent’s plea was not rendered unknowing and involuntary.” Moreover, while in Ferranti and Pederson “the parents entered pleas admitting certain allegations that they had neglected their children, respondent did not contest such allegations but in no way admitted them.” The court noted that when the trial court denied her motion to withdraw the no-contest plea, it “indicated that it accepted the plea solely for purposes of adjudication and that there was nothing from the no-contest plea to use against respondent at the termination hearing because she made no statement under oath. And to the extent that the no-contest plea could have potentially and theoretically been used against respondent by the trial court at the termination hearing,” the trial court did not do so. Under the circumstances, her no-contest plea did not constitute a violation of due process.

    Full Text Opinion

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