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summaries of opinions as they are released from the Michigan Supreme Court, Michigan Court of Appeals (published & unpublished), and selected U.S. Sixth Circuit.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

  • Administrative Law (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    This summary also appears under Employment & Labor Law

    e-Journal #: 77404
    Case: KenAmerican Res., Inc. v. United States Sec'y of Labor
    Court: U.S. Court of Appeals Sixth Circuit ( Published Opinion )
    Judges: White, Boggs, and Clay
    Issues:

    Citation for providing advance notice of a Mine Safety & Health Administration (MSHA) inspection to underground personnel; § 103(a) of the Federal Mine Safety & Health Act (Mine Safety Act) (30 USC § 813(a)); Applicability to mine operators; Statutory interpretation; Whether there was a violation of § 103(a); The Federal Mine Safety & Health Review Commission’s factual findings; “Substantial evidence”; First Amendment claim; Whether § 103(a) is narrowly tailored

    Summary:

    The court held that § 103(a) of the Mine Safety Act applies to mine operators, and that the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission did not err in determining petitioner-KenAmerican’s employee’s (H) statement violated § 103(a). Further, it rejected petitioner’s argument that the statute violates the First Amendment, holding that § 103(a) “is narrowly tailored to serve a compelling governmental interest.” Thus, it denied the petition to review the Commission’s order upholding the citation issued by respondent-Secretary of Labor for “providing advance notice of a MSHA inspection to personnel underground,” in violation of § 103(a). Petitioner raised textual arguments for its claim that the statute was not intended to apply to mine operators. The court concluded that the first clause of the second sentence in § 103(a) is “more reasonably read to identify the context. That is, it is properly read as: ‘As the Secretary is carrying out the requirements of this subsection, no advance notice of an inspection shall be provided to any person.’” In addition, any ambiguity on the face of the statute was resolved by examining “the broader text of the Mine Safety Act.” The court noted that Congress found the advance-notice prohibition “important enough to the statutory scheme to warrant both civil and criminal penalties. . . . It would be odd for Congress not to have intended the advance-notice prohibition to be enforced against mine operators by civil penalties as well as criminal[.]” As to whether the statute was violated, an unidentified miner asked H, the mine’s dispatcher, over the mine phone “if there ‘[was] company outside,’ and [H] responded ‘I think there is.’ [H] admitted that he assumed the miner was asking about MSHA inspectors when the miner asked if there was ‘company’ outside. Further, circumstantial evidence surrounding the exchange gives rise to the inference that [H’s] response alerted the miner not only that MSHA was on the premises, but also that MSHA inspectors would soon be entering the mine to perform an inspection.” The court noted that MSHA inspectors are required “to issue citations for any violations they see, and [H’s] answer provided the miner with at least” 35 minutes’ advance notice of the impending inspection.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Attorneys (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    This summary also appears under Negligence & Intentional Tort

    e-Journal #: 77416
    Case: VHS of MI, Inc. v. Jones
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Jansen, Cavanagh, and Riordan
    Issues:

    Conversion; MCL 600.2919a(1); “Own use”; Deposit of two-party checks into a law firm’s Interest on Lawyers Trust Account (IOLTA); MCL 440.3110(4); MI Rules of Professional Conduct (MRPC) 1.15(c); Attorney’s charging lien; The common-fund exception to the “American Rule” as to attorney fees; Popma v Auto Club Ins Ass’n; Miller v Citizens Ins Co (Miller I & II); Michigan Assigned Claims Plan (MACP)

    Summary:

    The court held that the trial court did not err in granting plaintiff-healthcare provider (VHS) summary disposition on its statutory conversion claim against defendant-Dailey Law Firm. It concluded the grant of summary disposition for VHS and award of damages “did not preclude Dailey from recovering attorney fees” – to the extent the firm believes it is owed attorney fees, its remedy is to sue its client (defendant-Jones). Jones was injured in an auto accident. Dailey helped him obtain coverage under the MACP, which assigned coverage to nonparty-Citizens. Jones received services from a VHS subsidiary as part of his treatment. VHS sent Citizens invoices totaling $10,592. Citizens sent Dailey checks “totaling g $9,532.80, which reflected a reduced rate negotiated by Citizens and VHS (the ‘Citizens checks’). The checks were made payable to” VHS’s subsidiary and the firm. Dailey deposited them to its IOLTA, “but did not remit any payment to VHS.” The court determined that because VHS “presented evidence showing the Citizens checks were payable to both VHS and Dailey, and because VHS offered evidence showing only Dailey acted on the Citizens checks, the burden then shifted to Dailey to” show a genuine issue of material fact existed for trial. It further found that Dailey failed to offer “sufficient documentary evidence” to refute VHS’s claim. Thus, the court concluded that “the trial court did not err in granting summary disposition on the basis of statutory conversion because there was not a genuine dispute of fact as to whether Dailey converted the Citizens checks for its own use.” Dailey contended that it held an attorney’s charging lien and that “the trial court effectively invalidated its right to be paid attorney fees.” The court found its appellate arguments asserted an entitlement to fees under the common-fund exception to the American Rule. While the firm relied on Miller I, the Supreme Court, in Miller II, rejected the court’s “application of the common-fund exception in these circumstances[.]” The Supreme Court determined that “a medical provider is not obliged to reduce its costs to contribute to an insured’s attorney fees.” The trial court’s order, awarding VHS all the funds from the Citizens checks, “effectively restricted Dailey from recovering attorney fees from VHS.” But the order did not prevent it “from receiving compensation for its efforts.” Affirmed.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Civil Rights (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    This summary also appears under Constitutional Law

    e-Journal #: 77401
    Case: Kent v. Ohio House of Representatives Democratic Caucus
    Court: U.S. Court of Appeals Sixth Circuit ( Published Opinion )
    Judges: Sutton and Gilman; Concurring in the judgment - Moore
    Issues:

    First Amendment retaliation claim under 42 USC § 1983; Legislative immunity; Tenney v Brandhove; Whether legislative immunity extends to caucus membership & party resource allocation; McCann v Brady (7th Cir); “Discretionary”; Bogan v Scott-Harris

    Summary:

    Holding that defendant-Ohio House Democratic Caucus performed a legislative act when it expelled plaintiff-former state representative from its ranks and barred her from accessing party resources, the court affirmed the district court’s dismissal of this lawsuit against caucus members. Plaintiff sued the Caucus along with the minority leader and another state representative under § 1983 claiming she suffered retaliation for protected speech. The district court dismissed her complaint on the basis that legislative immunity barred it. On appeal, the court found that legislative immunity extended to this dispute “over a vote to remove a legislative member from the” Caucus. The Caucus is “inextricably bound up in the legislative process.” It can choose to “take legislative positions and require members to vote a particular way on an initiative. Control of Caucus membership directly affects these functions. The members select the Leader and the Whip, and the Leader in turn designates committee ranking members. Before the Caucus takes a position that binds its members, at least” 85% of a quorum “must vote to do so. In these ways, the makeup of the Caucus is ‘integral’ to Caucus members’ ‘deliberative and communicative processes.’” As such, excluding a representative “is ‘part and parcel’ of that process and enjoys protection as well.” The same was true for allocating Caucus resources. The court rejected plaintiff’s argument that the Caucus removed her for trying to circulate a press release, not for a legislative act, and that her removal fell “outside the sphere of immunity because the Caucus does not have ‘discretionary legal authority’” to remove her. “‘[D]iscretionary,’ as used in Bogan and the cases that rely on it, distinguishes a discretionary exercise of judgment like adopting an ordinance, even an illegal one, from a ministerial duty like complying with a court order.” The Caucus’s decision to oust her “remained discretionary under that meaning, even if it allegedly violated state law.” Her argument failed to take her “expulsion and its consequences outside the legislative sphere.” In reaching this conclusion, the court did not pass judgment on the merits of plaintiff’s “claim that the representatives retaliated against her for speaking freely on a matter of public concern. Even if her allegations are true, our system relies on ‘[s]elf-discipline and the voters,’ not the federal courts, ‘for discouraging or correcting such abuses.’ Whatever the lawmakers’ motives, principles of immunity fence us out of the legislative sphere.”

    Full Text Opinion

  • Constitutional Law (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    This summary also appears under Civil Rights

    e-Journal #: 77401
    Case: Kent v. Ohio House of Representatives Democratic Caucus
    Court: U.S. Court of Appeals Sixth Circuit ( Published Opinion )
    Judges: Sutton and Gilman; Concurring in the judgment - Moore
    Issues:

    First Amendment retaliation claim under 42 USC § 1983; Legislative immunity; Tenney v Brandhove; Whether legislative immunity extends to caucus membership & party resource allocation; McCann v Brady (7th Cir); “Discretionary”; Bogan v Scott-Harris

    Summary:

    Holding that defendant-Ohio House Democratic Caucus performed a legislative act when it expelled plaintiff-former state representative from its ranks and barred her from accessing party resources, the court affirmed the district court’s dismissal of this lawsuit against caucus members. Plaintiff sued the Caucus along with the minority leader and another state representative under § 1983 claiming she suffered retaliation for protected speech. The district court dismissed her complaint on the basis that legislative immunity barred it. On appeal, the court found that legislative immunity extended to this dispute “over a vote to remove a legislative member from the” Caucus. The Caucus is “inextricably bound up in the legislative process.” It can choose to “take legislative positions and require members to vote a particular way on an initiative. Control of Caucus membership directly affects these functions. The members select the Leader and the Whip, and the Leader in turn designates committee ranking members. Before the Caucus takes a position that binds its members, at least” 85% of a quorum “must vote to do so. In these ways, the makeup of the Caucus is ‘integral’ to Caucus members’ ‘deliberative and communicative processes.’” As such, excluding a representative “is ‘part and parcel’ of that process and enjoys protection as well.” The same was true for allocating Caucus resources. The court rejected plaintiff’s argument that the Caucus removed her for trying to circulate a press release, not for a legislative act, and that her removal fell “outside the sphere of immunity because the Caucus does not have ‘discretionary legal authority’” to remove her. “‘[D]iscretionary,’ as used in Bogan and the cases that rely on it, distinguishes a discretionary exercise of judgment like adopting an ordinance, even an illegal one, from a ministerial duty like complying with a court order.” The Caucus’s decision to oust her “remained discretionary under that meaning, even if it allegedly violated state law.” Her argument failed to take her “expulsion and its consequences outside the legislative sphere.” In reaching this conclusion, the court did not pass judgment on the merits of plaintiff’s “claim that the representatives retaliated against her for speaking freely on a matter of public concern. Even if her allegations are true, our system relies on ‘[s]elf-discipline and the voters,’ not the federal courts, ‘for discouraging or correcting such abuses.’ Whatever the lawmakers’ motives, principles of immunity fence us out of the legislative sphere.”

    Full Text Opinion

  • Criminal Law (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 77422
    Case: People v. VanBuskirk
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Gleicher, Ronayne Krause, and Boonstra
    Issues:

    Motion to amend the witness list to add an expert & to adjourn the trial to give the prosecution time to prepare for the witness; MCR 6.201; People v Callon; Whether error was outcome determinative; Motion for a new trial; MCR 6.431(B); Newly discovered evidence; Hearsay; MRE 801(d)(1)(B); Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS)

    Summary:

    The court held that while the trial court abused its discretion in denying defendant’s motion to amend his witness list to add his chiropractor, he was not entitled to appellate relief given the substantial evidence supporting his convictions. Further, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying his motion for a new trial based on late-provided police dash-cam footage. Finally, his statements to a neighbor were not admissible under MRE 801(d)(1)(B) and thus, were properly excluded. The court affirmed defendant’s convictions of felonious assault, threatening an employee of a family independence agency with physical harm, and assaulting, resisting, or obstructing a police officer. It noted that his “voluminous chiropractic records” were provided to the prosecution in discovery, and “defense counsel’s failure to include the chiropractor on the witness list was clearly inadvertent. A brief supplementary voir dire could have been conducted to test the jurors’ potential biases and an adjournment could have been granted to give the prosecution the opportunity to better prepare. There was no sound reason to deny” defendant the right to present the witness. But he could not show that the error was outcome determinative. The chiropractor’s explanations about defendant’s physical limitations “would not invalidate the substantial evidence supporting” his convictions. The court noted that he was “not convicted of assault or threatening DHHS employees because of his stance. His convictions were based on his threatening words and his use of a baseball bat and a minivan to frighten the workers. Moreover, VanBuskirk testified that he could not hear the troopers order him to raise his arms. Evidence that VanBuskirk could not physically raise his arms does not add support for that testimony. Even if the evidence was presented, VanBuskirk’s inability to raise his arms would not counter evidence that he wrestled with the troopers to avoid being handcuffed, requiring a trooper to deploy his taser.” The court further found that the trial court “should have recessed the trial to allow defense counsel to review the dash-cam footage when it was suddenly presented at trial, instead of excluding it.” However, the footage did “not contradict the most important facts underlying VanBuskirk’s two resisting and obstructing convictions” and had no bearing on the other charges.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Employment & Labor Law (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    This summary also appears under Administrative Law

    e-Journal #: 77404
    Case: KenAmerican Res., Inc. v. United States Sec'y of Labor
    Court: U.S. Court of Appeals Sixth Circuit ( Published Opinion )
    Judges: White, Boggs, and Clay
    Issues:

    Citation for providing advance notice of a Mine Safety & Health Administration (MSHA) inspection to underground personnel; § 103(a) of the Federal Mine Safety & Health Act (Mine Safety Act) (30 USC § 813(a)); Applicability to mine operators; Statutory interpretation; Whether there was a violation of § 103(a); The Federal Mine Safety & Health Review Commission’s factual findings; “Substantial evidence”; First Amendment claim; Whether § 103(a) is narrowly tailored

    Summary:

    The court held that § 103(a) of the Mine Safety Act applies to mine operators, and that the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission did not err in determining petitioner-KenAmerican’s employee’s (H) statement violated § 103(a). Further, it rejected petitioner’s argument that the statute violates the First Amendment, holding that § 103(a) “is narrowly tailored to serve a compelling governmental interest.” Thus, it denied the petition to review the Commission’s order upholding the citation issued by respondent-Secretary of Labor for “providing advance notice of a MSHA inspection to personnel underground,” in violation of § 103(a). Petitioner raised textual arguments for its claim that the statute was not intended to apply to mine operators. The court concluded that the first clause of the second sentence in § 103(a) is “more reasonably read to identify the context. That is, it is properly read as: ‘As the Secretary is carrying out the requirements of this subsection, no advance notice of an inspection shall be provided to any person.’” In addition, any ambiguity on the face of the statute was resolved by examining “the broader text of the Mine Safety Act.” The court noted that Congress found the advance-notice prohibition “important enough to the statutory scheme to warrant both civil and criminal penalties. . . . It would be odd for Congress not to have intended the advance-notice prohibition to be enforced against mine operators by civil penalties as well as criminal[.]” As to whether the statute was violated, an unidentified miner asked H, the mine’s dispatcher, over the mine phone “if there ‘[was] company outside,’ and [H] responded ‘I think there is.’ [H] admitted that he assumed the miner was asking about MSHA inspectors when the miner asked if there was ‘company’ outside. Further, circumstantial evidence surrounding the exchange gives rise to the inference that [H’s] response alerted the miner not only that MSHA was on the premises, but also that MSHA inspectors would soon be entering the mine to perform an inspection.” The court noted that MSHA inspectors are required “to issue citations for any violations they see, and [H’s] answer provided the miner with at least” 35 minutes’ advance notice of the impending inspection.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Family Law (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 77433
    Case: Schearer v. Schearer
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Letica, Markey, and O’Brien
    Issues:

    Divorce; Marital property; Spousal support; Ability to work; Ability to pay; Judgment of divorce (JOD)

    Summary:

    The court affirmed the trial court’s JOD in which the parties’ house was deemed marital property and defendant-ex-husband’s request for spousal support was denied. The home came into their possession “as part of the distribution of defendant’s father’s trust” after his death. The trust “made no mention of plaintiff; however, the quitclaim deed that transferred ownership of the house named both” parties. Defendant argued that “because the trust named only him as the beneficiary with respect to the house, it was his separate property.” Plaintiff-ex-wife argued that “because she was named in the deed and defendant never challenged the distribution of the trust’s assets in the probate court, the house was marital property.” The court held that because “the probate court had exclusive jurisdiction, the circuit court had no jurisdictional basis upon which to set aside the trustee’s distribution of the marital home. Therefore, the trial court was bound by the terms of the quitclaim deed and correctly concluded that the house was marital property. Even if the house was inherited and deeded exclusively to defendant, the trial court’s finding that the home became marital property over the course of the marriage was not clear error.” The home was treated as marital property. Plaintiff lived there “with defendant beginning in 2009 until the parties separated in 2019. Moreover, significant remodeling was done on the house, and this appeared to have been a joint effort. The parties also made substantial electrical improvements to the property’s pole barn so that plaintiff could operate a business growing marijuana. While the remodeling was paid for by defendant’s father, defendant’s Social Security backpay, and the proceeds from the sale of the farmland, plaintiff also contributed through her own income, credit cards, and by taking out a $5,000 loan.” As to spousal support, regarding the ability to work factor, the trial court determined defendant’s “testimony that he had no additional sources of income outside of his Social Security disability benefits lacked credibility, and this finding was supported by the record.” The court declined to disturb the "finding that defendant underreported his income.” As to ability to pay, the decision to not award support was largely based "on the fact that defendant began making additional income from an unexplained source after the parties separated. The trial court found that the unexplained additional income substantially raised his yearly income to such a level that spousal support was unnecessary.”

    Full Text Opinion

  • Insurance (2)

    Full Text Opinion

    This summary also appears under Negligence & Intentional Tort

    e-Journal #: 77429
    Case: Hamilton v. Citizens Ins. Co. of Midwest
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Letica, Markey, and O’Brien
    Issues:

    Action seeking collision coverage; Principle that an insurer must inform an insured of the defenses it intends to raise for denying a claim; Smith v Grange Mut Fire Ins Co of MI; Construction of an insurance contract; Rory v Continental Ins Co; Negligence; Loweke v Ann Arbor Ceiling & Partition Co, LLC; Expert testimony

    Summary:

    The court held that the trial court did not err by granting summary disposition for defendants-insurer (Citizens) and agency (Mid-Valley). Plaintiff filed a claim for collision coverage after his truck was totaled in an accident. Citizens denied the claim, indicating the truck was not insured at the time of the accident as it was never informed he had purchased the truck. On appeal, the court first rejected plaintiff’s argument that the trial court erred by granting Citizens’ motion for summary disposition. He claimed that Citizens, in its initial letter denying coverage, did not state it was denying coverage because he failed to advise Citizens of his purchase of the truck within 14 days of acquiring it, and so Citizens was precluded from relying on that reason during this litigation. It noted plaintiff’s argument “confuses the reason that Citizens denied [his] claim (the [truck] was not covered) with the reason that the [truck] was not covered (plaintiff’s failure to ask Citizens to insure [it] within 14 days of its purchase).” In addition, because the policy language “was unambiguous and applied to the facts of this case, and because there is no dispute that plaintiff did not satisfy that section’s requirements for collision coverage, the trial court did not err by granting” Citizens summary disposition. The court next rejected his claim that the trial court erred by granting summary disposition for Mid-Valley. It agreed with the trial court that, on the facts of this case, “an expert was necessary to establish whether Mid-Valley breached the standard of care because such a conclusion was not within a layperson’s knowledge.” It also agreed that the evidence established “Mid-Valley did not breach its duty to plaintiff, and plaintiff failed to present competing evidence creating a question of fact on the issue.” Moreover, accepting his contention that “the duty at issue was whether Mid-Valley failed to procure insurance coverage requested by plaintiff, the trial court still reached the correct result because there is no evidence that tends to establish that plaintiff asked Mid-Valley to procure insurance for the [truck], and thus no question of fact that Mid-Valley did not breach this duty.” Affirmed.

    Full Text Opinion

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 77413
    Case: Johnson v. Geico Indem. Co.
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Jansen and Cameron; Concurrence – Murray
    Issues:

    Personal injury protection (PIP) benefits claim under the No-Fault Act (NFA); Effect of a policy fraud provision; Meemic Ins Co v Fortson; Williams v Farm Bureau Mut Ins Co of MI

    Summary:

    On remand from the Michigan Supreme Court, the court held that defendant-insurer could not void plaintiff-insured’s policy contract completely, but that it was “not obligated to pay PIP benefits for claims that are clearly fraudulent.” Thus, it vacated the order denying defendant’s summary disposition motion and remanded for reconsideration. Reviewing Fortson and Williams, it found that the relevant considerations are generally “(1) whether there is any factual dispute that fraud was committed, (2) when the alleged fraud occurred, in relation to when the policy was procured and when litigation commenced, (3) whether the insurer seeks to avoid paying mandatory benefits or optional ones; (4) whether the policyholder is also the claimant and individual alleged to have committed fraud, and (5) whether the insurer seeks to rescind the entire policy” or only to deny a particular claim due to fraud. The answers to these considerations were clear here, and under “Fortson, as interpreted by Williams, the antifraud provision of the policy is unenforceable, at least” as to mandatory coverage under the NFA, because the fraud was “not related to the procurement of the policy. And, the allegations of fraud do not rise to the level described in Fortson: fraud related to ‘a party’s failure to perform a substantial part of the contract or one of its essential terms.’” But the fact defendant sought “to deny this specific claim because plaintiff made material misrepresentations” rather than to rescind the whole policy was a consideration. “Fortson’s statement that an insurer can reject fraudulent claims is a recognition that, if a specific claim is clearly fraudulent, the plaintiff will not be able to” show entitlement to NFA benefits. This was a distinct issue from a fraud provision. A “claimant must establish that any PIP benefits sought are actually payable.” It was clear here “plaintiff did not actually incur claimed benefits for attendant care and replacement services while she was out of state and away from her named caregivers” and she could not recover for those claims. But this did not necessarily bar her from recovering for such care or services she actually incurred “at other times, or for other PIP benefits to which she can prove entitlement. This holding does not conflict with Williams or Fortson, as the issue ultimately boils down to whether plaintiff can prove those specific claims, not whether the antifraud provision applies.”

    Full Text Opinion

  • Negligence & Intentional Tort (2)

    Full Text Opinion

    This summary also appears under Insurance

    e-Journal #: 77429
    Case: Hamilton v. Citizens Ins. Co. of Midwest
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Letica, Markey, and O’Brien
    Issues:

    Action seeking collision coverage; Principle that an insurer must inform an insured of the defenses it intends to raise for denying a claim; Smith v Grange Mut Fire Ins Co of MI; Construction of an insurance contract; Rory v Continental Ins Co; Negligence; Loweke v Ann Arbor Ceiling & Partition Co, LLC; Expert testimony

    Summary:

    The court held that the trial court did not err by granting summary disposition for defendants-insurer (Citizens) and agency (Mid-Valley). Plaintiff filed a claim for collision coverage after his truck was totaled in an accident. Citizens denied the claim, indicating the truck was not insured at the time of the accident as it was never informed he had purchased the truck. On appeal, the court first rejected plaintiff’s argument that the trial court erred by granting Citizens’ motion for summary disposition. He claimed that Citizens, in its initial letter denying coverage, did not state it was denying coverage because he failed to advise Citizens of his purchase of the truck within 14 days of acquiring it, and so Citizens was precluded from relying on that reason during this litigation. It noted plaintiff’s argument “confuses the reason that Citizens denied [his] claim (the [truck] was not covered) with the reason that the [truck] was not covered (plaintiff’s failure to ask Citizens to insure [it] within 14 days of its purchase).” In addition, because the policy language “was unambiguous and applied to the facts of this case, and because there is no dispute that plaintiff did not satisfy that section’s requirements for collision coverage, the trial court did not err by granting” Citizens summary disposition. The court next rejected his claim that the trial court erred by granting summary disposition for Mid-Valley. It agreed with the trial court that, on the facts of this case, “an expert was necessary to establish whether Mid-Valley breached the standard of care because such a conclusion was not within a layperson’s knowledge.” It also agreed that the evidence established “Mid-Valley did not breach its duty to plaintiff, and plaintiff failed to present competing evidence creating a question of fact on the issue.” Moreover, accepting his contention that “the duty at issue was whether Mid-Valley failed to procure insurance coverage requested by plaintiff, the trial court still reached the correct result because there is no evidence that tends to establish that plaintiff asked Mid-Valley to procure insurance for the [truck], and thus no question of fact that Mid-Valley did not breach this duty.” Affirmed.

    Full Text Opinion

    Full Text Opinion

    This summary also appears under Attorneys

    e-Journal #: 77416
    Case: VHS of MI, Inc. v. Jones
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Jansen, Cavanagh, and Riordan
    Issues:

    Conversion; MCL 600.2919a(1); “Own use”; Deposit of two-party checks into a law firm’s Interest on Lawyers Trust Account (IOLTA); MCL 440.3110(4); MI Rules of Professional Conduct (MRPC) 1.15(c); Attorney’s charging lien; The common-fund exception to the “American Rule” as to attorney fees; Popma v Auto Club Ins Ass’n; Miller v Citizens Ins Co (Miller I & II); Michigan Assigned Claims Plan (MACP)

    Summary:

    The court held that the trial court did not err in granting plaintiff-healthcare provider (VHS) summary disposition on its statutory conversion claim against defendant-Dailey Law Firm. It concluded the grant of summary disposition for VHS and award of damages “did not preclude Dailey from recovering attorney fees” – to the extent the firm believes it is owed attorney fees, its remedy is to sue its client (defendant-Jones). Jones was injured in an auto accident. Dailey helped him obtain coverage under the MACP, which assigned coverage to nonparty-Citizens. Jones received services from a VHS subsidiary as part of his treatment. VHS sent Citizens invoices totaling $10,592. Citizens sent Dailey checks “totaling g $9,532.80, which reflected a reduced rate negotiated by Citizens and VHS (the ‘Citizens checks’). The checks were made payable to” VHS’s subsidiary and the firm. Dailey deposited them to its IOLTA, “but did not remit any payment to VHS.” The court determined that because VHS “presented evidence showing the Citizens checks were payable to both VHS and Dailey, and because VHS offered evidence showing only Dailey acted on the Citizens checks, the burden then shifted to Dailey to” show a genuine issue of material fact existed for trial. It further found that Dailey failed to offer “sufficient documentary evidence” to refute VHS’s claim. Thus, the court concluded that “the trial court did not err in granting summary disposition on the basis of statutory conversion because there was not a genuine dispute of fact as to whether Dailey converted the Citizens checks for its own use.” Dailey contended that it held an attorney’s charging lien and that “the trial court effectively invalidated its right to be paid attorney fees.” The court found its appellate arguments asserted an entitlement to fees under the common-fund exception to the American Rule. While the firm relied on Miller I, the Supreme Court, in Miller II, rejected the court’s “application of the common-fund exception in these circumstances[.]” The Supreme Court determined that “a medical provider is not obliged to reduce its costs to contribute to an insured’s attorney fees.” The trial court’s order, awarding VHS all the funds from the Citizens checks, “effectively restricted Dailey from recovering attorney fees from VHS.” But the order did not prevent it “from receiving compensation for its efforts.” Affirmed.

    Full Text Opinion

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