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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summaries of opinions as they are released from the Michigan Supreme Court, Michigan Court of Appeals (published & unpublished), and selected U.S. Sixth Circuit.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 summaries of three Michigan Supreme Court orders under Constitutional Law/Real Property and Criminal Law.


Cases appear under the following practice areas:

    • Constitutional Law (1)

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      e-Journal #: 60046
      Case: Chabad-Lubavitch of MI v. Schuchman
      Court: Michigan Supreme Court ( Order )
      Judges: Young, Jr., Markman, Kelly, Zahra, McCormack, and Viviano; Not participating – Bernstein
      Issues:

      Property ownership dispute between religious entities; Statute of limitations; When the plaintiff's claim accrued; MCL 600.5827; "Equitable tolling"; Trentadue v. Buckler Lawn Sprinkler; Effect of the parties' involvement in ecclesiastical dispute resolution proceedings; AFSCME v. Highland Park Bd. of Educ.; The necessity of exhaustion of religious dispute resolution remedies before filing an action in the civil courts; Buettner v. Frazer; Miller v. McClung; Dispute as to when the ecclesiastical dispute resolution process ended

      Summary: In an order in lieu of granting leave to appeal, the court reversed the Court of Appeals judgment in a published opinion (see e-Journal # 57166 in the 5/27/14 edition), holding that there were no grounds for equitably tolling the statute of limitations. “MCL 600.5827 and MCL 600.5829 govern the accrual of the plaintiffs’ claims. The statutory scheme is exclusive, and neither statute contains a provision to toll the period of limitations.” The court denied the application for leave to appeal as cross-appellants as moot.

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    • Contracts (1)

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      e-Journal #: 59932
      Case: DFCU Fin. v. Monts
      Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
      Judges: Per Curiam - Riordan, Jansen, and Fort Hood
      Issues: Breach of contract; Garnishment; Objections to a writ of garnishment; MCR 3.101(K)(1) & (2); Construction of garnishment proceedings; Westland Park Apts. v. Ricco, Inc.; Principle that those not a party or privy to an action are unaffected by the judgment rendered in that action; Eyde v. Michigan; Damm v. Mason; Indemnity; Langley v. Harris Corp.; Wausau Underwriters Ins. Co. v. Ajax Paving Indus., Inc.
      Summary:

      The court held that the trial court abused its discretion by sustaining the defendant’s objections to the plaintiff-lender’s writ of garnishment. It also held that the trial court’s conclusion that defendant’s divorce judgment eliminated his liability was erroneous. Plaintiff sought a writ of garnishment against defendant for failing to pay a home equity loan. The trial court sustained defendant’s objection to the writ on the ground that his ex-wife had assumed the debt in their divorce. On appeal, the court agreed with plaintiff that the trial court erred in sustaining defendant’s objection, finding that his objections and the trial court’s decision to sustain them were based “on a conclusion that the underlying judgment was invalid in light of the divorce judgment.” Because defendant’s “challenge to the writ of garnishment was based on the validity of the underlying judgment and not the garnishment proceeding itself, his objections should have been rejected by the trial court.” The court also found that the basis of the trial court’s ruling was itself erroneous. “The divorce judgment was entered in a separate proceeding to which” plaintiff was not a party and thus, plaintiff was not bound by the judgment, nor did it absolve defendant of his liability. “The judgment of divorce stated that [his ex-wife] would ‘assume the full amount of the joint debt,’” and that she “would ‘indemnify and hold [defendant] harmless.’ By stating that [she] would indemnify [him] with regard to the debt, the judgment only addressed liability for the debt as between” the two of them. Defendant could still be liable to plaintiff but could maintain an action against his ex-wife “to indemnify him for his liability.” Reversed and remanded for reinstatement of the writ of garnishment.

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    • Criminal Law (7)

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      e-Journal #: 60044
      Case: People v. Poole
      Court: Michigan Supreme Court ( Order )
      Judges: Young, Jr., Markman, Kelly, Zahra, McCormack, Viviano, and Bernstein
      Issues:

      DNA testing of biological material; MCL 770.16; People v. Hernandez-Orta; The "law of the case" doctrine; Grievance Adm'r v. Lopatin

      Summary:

      In an order in lieu of granting leave to appeal, the court reversed the Court of Appeals judgment (see e-Journal # 58003 in the 10/3/14 edition), holding that “no provision set forth in MCL 770.16 prohibits the issuance of an order granting DNA testing of previously tested biological material.” Further, the law of the case doctrine did not apply “because prior orders denying leave to appeal were not rulings on the merits of the issues presented.” The court remanded the case to the Court of Appeals for consideration of the issues defendant raised that were not addressed during that court’s initial review of the case.

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      e-Journal #: 60045
      Case: People v. Sheena
      Court: Michigan Supreme Court ( Order )
      Judges: Young, Jr., Markman, Kelly, Zahra, McCormack, Viviano, and Bernstein
      Issues: Ineffective assistance of counsel; Failure to pursue an insanity defense; Remand for an evidentiary hearing pursuant to People v. Ginther
      Summary:

      In an order in lieu of granting leave to appeal the Court of Appeals judgment (see e-Journal # 56471 in the 3/7/14 edition), the court remanded the case to the trial court for a Ginther hearing “to determine whether the defendant was deprived of his right to the effective assistance of trial counsel based on counsel’s failure to pursue an insanity defense.” The court denied leave to appeal in all other respects because it was not persuaded that it should review the questions presented.

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      e-Journal #: 59926
      Case: People v. Mushatt
      Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
      Judges: Per Curiam - Jansen, Meter, and Beckering
      Issues:

      Motion for substitution of counsel; People v. Mack; People v. Traylor; People v. Rose; Whether the trial court adequately considered the motion; People v. Strickland; Search & seizure; People v. Hellstrom; People v. Poole; “Probable cause”; People v. Darwich; People v. Russo; People v. Nunez; Prosecutorial error; People v. Leshaj; People v. Goodin; “Other acts” evidence; MRE 404(b); People v. VanderVliet; Relevance; MRE 401; People v. Mardlin; MRE 403; People v. Crawford; People v. Fisher; People v. Cameron; Offender Tracking Information System (OTIS)

      Summary:

      Concluding that the trial court adequately considered the defendant’s motion for substitution of counsel, the court held that he was not entitled to the appointment of new counsel. Further, under the totality of the circumstances, a reasonably cautious magistrate could determine that the facts presented in the search warrant affidavit provided a “substantial basis for finding probable cause.” Finally, the court rejected defendant’s challenge to the admission of an officer’s testimony about looking up his name and photo in OTIS. Thus, it affirmed his convictions of breaking and entering, stealing from a bank, safe, vault, or other depository, and violating MCL 750.81d(1). Defendant contended that defense counsel’s decision not to file certain pretrial motions constituted a conflict as to a fundamental trial tactic, requiring the appointment of new counsel. However, “because an attorney’s ‘decision not to file . . . motions clearly falls within the categories of professional judgment and trial strategy that are matters entrusted to the attorney,’ an attorney’s refusal to file motions does not require new counsel.” The search warrant affidavit “identified defendant as the perpetrator of a breaking and entering and confirmed” that he recently lived at the address to be searched. While it “did not expressly state that a burglar often keeps evidence of his or her criminal activities in the places he or she resides a ‘magistrate . . . [is] free to make . . . logical inference[s] on his own.’” Thus, the evidence seized pursuant to the search warrant was permissibly used as substantive evidence at defendant’s trial. The court also concluded that the prosecution offered the officer’s testimony for a permissible purpose under MRE 404(b) (to explain his process of identifying the suspect for one of the incidents), and the references to OTIS “established a foundation for his identification” of the suspect. Further, the probative value of the testimony “likely outweighed any prejudicial effect.” The officer and the prosecutor did not identify OTIS as a criminal database, or identify any of the specific crimes defendant committed. As his identity as the suspect for the 138 Harrow Lane incident “was integral to the prosecutor’s case, the evidence was admissible.”

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      e-Journal #: 59923
      Case: People v. Nelson
      Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
      Judges: Per Curiam - Boonstra, Saad, and Murray
      Issues:

      Sufficiency of the evidence to support the defendant’s first-degree felony murder & armed robbery convictions; People v. Smith; Aiding & abetting; MCL 767.39; People v. Robinson; People v. Riley; People v. Rockwell; Ineffective assistance of counsel; Strickland v. Washington; People v. Pickens; People v. Carbin; Matters of trial strategy; People v. Cline; Factual predicate requirement; People v. Hoag; Alleged failure to conduct a reasonable investigation; People v. Trakhtenberg; Failure to call any codefendants to testify; People v. Horn; People v. Rice (On Remand); A “substantial defense”; People v. Kelly

      Summary:

      Holding that there was sufficient evidence to support the defendant’s felony murder conviction on an aiding and abetting theory, and rejecting his ineffective assistance of counsel claims, the court affirmed his felony murder and armed robbery convictions. He was in the victim’s (E) home when the police arrived. “By that time, the armed robbery was already in progress” and E “had already been beaten and shot.” E’s blood “was found on defendant’s clothing, including his shoes, and defendant could not be excluded as a donor of DNA that was found on one of the guns.” Further, after the police knocked and announced their presence, he “opened the door, looked outside, and immediately slammed the door shut. By doing so, defendant interfered with the officers’ ability to respond to the crime, hindered their ability to render aid” to E while he was still alive, “and facilitated his codefendants’ attempted escape.” The court concluded that the jury could reasonably find that he “was an active participant in the armed robbery.” Further, one of “the natural consequences of the commission of armed robbery is death.” Thus, there was sufficient evidence that “in addition to assisting in the commission of the armed robbery, defendant ‘performed acts or gave encouragement that assisted the commission of the killing of a human being’ and that he did so, at the very least, ‘with knowledge that death or great bodily harm was the probable result.’” As to his ineffective assistance of counsel claims, it was not apparent from the record that either of his attorneys failed to conduct a proper investigation. Further, there was no evidence that “his brother or the other codefendants, if interviewed, would have in fact corroborated defendant’s version of events or otherwise given favorable evidence.” He claimed that he wanted to have them testify as to his lack of participation in the crimes, and that he “only arrived later. However, this defense was in fact submitted to the jury by way of defendant’s own statements made during his police interview.”

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      e-Journal #: 59929
      Case: People v. Watkins
      Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
      Judges: Per Curiam – Beckering, Markey, and Shapiro
      Issues: Sufficiency of the evidence; People v. Meissner; Assault by strangulation; MCL 750.84(1)(b); “Strangulation or suffocation”; MCL 750.84(2); Domestic assault; MCL 750.81(2); “Assault”; People v. Cameron; Credibility of witnesses; People v. Lemmon; Court costs; MCL 769.1k(1)(b)(ii) & (1)(b)(iii); People v. Cunningham; People v. Konopka
      Summary:

      The court held that there was sufficient evidence to support the defendant’s convictions of assault by strangulation and domestic assault, and that the trial court did not err by imposing court costs. He was sentenced as a fourth-offense habitual offender to 36 to 240 months’ imprisonment for assault by strangulation and 30 to 240 months’ imprisonment for domestic assault. The trial court also imposed $1,000 in court costs. On appeal, the court rejected his argument that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions, finding it was sufficient to show that he “intentionally engaged in unconsented and harmful or offensive touching of” the victim. It noted that the victim testified that he “pushed, choked, and kicked” her, which “caused her to have trouble breathing and to feel like she would vomit.” Further, this behavior resulted in injuries to the victim’s throat, a police officer noticed injuries to her neck, and her credibility was corroborated. It also rejected his argument that the trial court erred in imposing $1,000 in court costs, noting the case was pending on appeal when the Legislature adopted the amended version of MCL 769.1k, which it found applies retroactively. The amended version “authorizes a trial court to impose ‘any cost reasonably related to the actual costs incurred by the trial court without separately calculating those costs involved in the particular case’ including costs necessary for court personnel, goods and services necessary to the operation of the court, and necessary expenses for the operation and maintenance of court buildings and facilities.” Thus, defendant could not show that the trial court erred. Affirmed.

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      e-Journal #: 59954
      Case: United States v. Lichtenberger
      Court: U.S. Court of Appeals Sixth Circuit ( Published Opinion )
      Judges: Donald, Merritt, and Stranch
      Issues:

      Search & seizure; Suppression of data from a laptop computer viewed without a search warrant; U.S. Const. amend. IV; The “private search doctrine”; United States v. Jacobsen; Walter v. United States; United States v. Allen; Whether the officer’s search remained “within the scope” of the initial private search; United States v. Richards (Unpub. 6th Cir.); United States v. Williams; Riley v. California; Wyoming v. Houghton; The “virtual certainty” requirement; United States v. Runyan (5th Cir.); Rann v. Atchison (7th Cir.); United States v. Tosti (9th Cir.)

      Summary:

      A police officer’s warrantless review of the defendant’s laptop data exceeded the scope of the private search conducted earlier that day, and violated his Fourth Amendment rights to be free from an unreasonable search and seizure. Because defendant-Lichtenberger had failed to register as a sex offender, he was arrested at the home he shared with KH. After his arrest, KH “hacked into Lichtenberger’s personal laptop computer, where she discovered a number of images of child pornography.” She then contacted the police, and Officer H asked to see what she had found. He reviewed some images on the laptop, and then obtained a warrant for the laptop and its contents. When Lichtenberger moved to suppress the laptop evidence, the government argued that the officer’s review “was valid under the private search doctrine, which permits a government agent to verify the illegality of evidence discovered during a private search.” The district court granted the defendant’s motion to suppress, and the court affirmed, holding that even though KH’s initial private search was legal under Jacobsen, Officer H’s search exceeded the scope of KH’s earlier search. To remain within the scope of KH’s search, H “had to proceed with ‘virtual certainty’ that the ‘inspection of the [laptop] and its contents would not tell [him] anything more than he already had been told’” by KH. However, “not only was there no virtual certainty that [H’s] review was limited to the photographs from [KH’s] earlier search, there was a very real possibility [H] exceeded the scope of [KH’s] search and that he could have discovered something else on Lichtenberger’s laptop that was private, legal, and unrelated to the allegations prompting the search[.]” The “lack of ‘virtual certainty’” was dispositive. The court also noted that “[t]he need to confirm the laptop’s contents on-site was not immediate[,]” and the laptop did not pose any “cognizable, immediate threat . . . .” The court considered the “extensive privacy interests at stake in searches of a laptop,” weighed that against “the government’s interest in conducting the search,” and concluded that the evidence must be suppressed. Affirmed.

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      e-Journal #: 59955
      Case: United States v. Napier
      Court: U.S. Court of Appeals Sixth Circuit ( Published Opinion )
      Judges: Donald, Clay, and Kethledge
      Issues:

      Whether the prosecutor’s conduct violated the defendant’s Fifth & Sixth Amendment rights when she allegedly participated in his transfer from federal to state custody; Rochin v. California; United States v. Russell; Whether the federal prosecutor’s involvement in the transfer was “outrageous” and “conscience shocking”; Breithaupt v. Abram; Whitley v. Albers; The suppression of evidence obtained through the transfer; Massiah v. United States; Michigan v. Harvey; “Actual prejudice”; United States v. Morrison; Sufficient evidence of the “interstate commerce” element of the charged child pornography crimes; United States v. Carson; United States v. Torres-Ramos; United States v. Grzybowicz (11th Cir.); United States v. Mellies (Unpub. 6th Cir.); United States v. MacEwan (3rd Cir.); United States v. Runyan (5th Cir.); Admission of electronic evidence; Crawford v. Washington; Michigan v. Bryant; Whether a “fatal variance” in the distribution-of-child-pornography charge violated his due process rights; United States v. Bearden; United States v. Budd; United States v. Prince; United States v. Hynes; Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA); Cincinnati Police Detective (CPD)

      Summary:

      The defendant was not entitled to have his indictment on child-pornography charges dismissed based on alleged “prosecutorial misconduct.” Defendant-Napier argued that the AUSA participated in his improper transfer out of federal into state custody. He claimed that this “misconduct also include[d] the results of that transfer: the CPD’s alleged violation of Napier’s right to counsel under the Sixth Amendment and under Miranda when his repeated calls for counsel went unheeded.” The court affirmed the district court’s order denying Napier’s request to dismiss. It agreed with the district court’s conclusion that “the AUSA had initiated the transfer[,]” but that Napier failed to show “that AUSA’s conduct rises to the ‘outrageous,’ ‘conscience shocking’ level necessary to warrant the extraordinary remedy of dismissing the charges against him with prejudice . . . .” The district court properly found that although it “was ‘certainly foreseeable than an interrogation would take place’ while Napier was in Hamilton County, the AUSA could not be held accountable for alleged constitutional violations committed by state agents and there was no record evidence that she personally participated in these alleged violations.” Also, the district court “took appropriate steps to sanction the ‘poor judgment on the part of the AUSA[]’” by suppressing the evidence obtained during the CPD interview for both substantive and impeachment purposes. “[M]ost importantly, Napier has not demonstrated any actual prejudice as a result of the AUSA’s conduct.” The court noted that it “has never sanctioned the remedy requested by Napier for any pretrial conduct by a federal prosecutor, and this case will not be the first.” The court also held that the government sufficiently established the interstate commerce element of the crimes charged—“Napier’s use of the Internet, coupled with the varying timestamps indicated on his emails, is sufficient to satisfy the federal jurisdictional nexus.” The district court properly admitted the challenged electronic evidence, and the court rejected his argument that his conviction on the distribution-of-child-pornography charge was “afflicted by a ‘fatal’ variance” and violated his due process rights. Affirmed.

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    • Litigation (2)

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      e-Journal #: 59932
      Case: DFCU Fin. v. Monts
      Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
      Judges: Per Curiam - Riordan, Jansen, and Fort Hood
      Issues: Breach of contract; Garnishment; Objections to a writ of garnishment; MCR 3.101(K)(1) & (2); Construction of garnishment proceedings; Westland Park Apts. v. Ricco, Inc.; Principle that those not a party or privy to an action are unaffected by the judgment rendered in that action; Eyde v. Michigan; Damm v. Mason; Indemnity; Langley v. Harris Corp.; Wausau Underwriters Ins. Co. v. Ajax Paving Indus., Inc.
      Summary:

      The court held that the trial court abused its discretion by sustaining the defendant’s objections to the plaintiff-lender’s writ of garnishment. It also held that the trial court’s conclusion that defendant’s divorce judgment eliminated his liability was erroneous. Plaintiff sought a writ of garnishment against defendant for failing to pay a home equity loan. The trial court sustained defendant’s objection to the writ on the ground that his ex-wife had assumed the debt in their divorce. On appeal, the court agreed with plaintiff that the trial court erred in sustaining defendant’s objection, finding that his objections and the trial court’s decision to sustain them were based “on a conclusion that the underlying judgment was invalid in light of the divorce judgment.” Because defendant’s “challenge to the writ of garnishment was based on the validity of the underlying judgment and not the garnishment proceeding itself, his objections should have been rejected by the trial court.” The court also found that the basis of the trial court’s ruling was itself erroneous. “The divorce judgment was entered in a separate proceeding to which” plaintiff was not a party and thus, plaintiff was not bound by the judgment, nor did it absolve defendant of his liability. “The judgment of divorce stated that [his ex-wife] would ‘assume the full amount of the joint debt,’” and that she “would ‘indemnify and hold [defendant] harmless.’ By stating that [she] would indemnify [him] with regard to the debt, the judgment only addressed liability for the debt as between” the two of them. Defendant could still be liable to plaintiff but could maintain an action against his ex-wife “to indemnify him for his liability.” Reversed and remanded for reinstatement of the writ of garnishment.

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      e-Journal #: 59925
      Case: In re Estate of Robert W. Easterly
      Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
      Judges: Per Curiam – Riordan, Jansen, and Fort Hood
      Issues:

      The Estates & Protected Individuals Code (MCL 700.1101 et seq.); Petition for attorney fees; Probate administration expenses; MCL 700.3803(2) & (3); Fees requested for services to the decedent’s law firm; MCL 700.3715(w); Whether MCR 5.313 barred attorney fees; Statutory construction; Robinson v. City of Lansing; MCL 700.3720 & .3721; Becht v. Miller; In re Estate of Valentino; In re Prichard Estate; Claim for a refund of an unearned retainer paid to the decedent before his death; Brewer v. Stoddard; Immediate property distribution; In re McNamera’s Estate; MCL 700.3805; In re Temple Marital Trust; Whether a constructive trust should have been imposed; Coalition Protecting Auto No-Fault v. Michigan Catastrophic Claims Ass’n; Whether a surcharge request was a basis for imposing conditions on distribution; MCL 700.3808(4); MCL 700.3712; MCL 700.3703(2); Denial of an adjournment; Soumis v. Soumis; Sanctions; The automatic stay provision in MCL 600.867(1); Comerica Bank v. City of Adrian; The requested fees; Smith v. Khouri; Vittiglio v. Vittiglio; MRPC 1.5(a); Wood v. Detroit Auto. Inter-Ins. Exch.; Distinguishing Donnelley v. Donnelley; Personal representative (PR)

      Summary:

      In these consolidated appeals, the court concluded in Docket No. 319145 that while the appellant-law firm was not entitled to some of the requested attorney fees, further proceedings were needed as to a portion of the fees. In Docket Nos. 319723 and 320189, it concluded that reconsideration of the appellee-PR’s petition for sanctions was also appropriate on remand. After the decedent, who operated a law practice as a sole practitioner, died, his wife was appointed PR. During the probate proceedings, appellant filed a petition requesting that the estate pay for services allegedly rendered in assisting the estate and PR. Appellant appealed the probate court’s order allowing the PR’s final account but disallowing the requested fees, and allowing the partial distribution of property. Appellant also appealed an order awarding attorney fees and costs as sanctions against appellant, and allowing the sanctions award to be reduced to a civil judgment. It also appealed the civil judgment. The court affirmed “the probate court’s decision to disallow any attorney fees sought by appellant in connection with legal services provided to the decedent’s former clients.” It also affirmed the probate court’s decision to consider the unnecessary expense caused by the commencement of “the proceeding as an intestate proceeding, with knowledge that the decedent had a will,” in evaluating whether the estate benefited from appellant’s services. However, because a question remained regarding the PR and the appellant’s “agreement as it related to the decedent’s law firm,” the court remanded for further proceedings on that issue. It rejected the appellant’s argument that “the probate court erred in allowing an immediate distribution of real property and office furniture” to the PR, without conditions. The court also rejected appellant’s claim that the probate court violated the automatic stay provision in MCL 600.867(1) by entering the order awarding sanctions. However, having concluded that remand was warranted for further proceedings to determine whether appellant was entitled to recover any fees that were compensable as an administrative expense of the estate, it also determined that reconsideration of the PR’s petition for sanctions was appropriate.

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    • Probate (1)

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      e-Journal #: 59925
      Case: In re Estate of Robert W. Easterly
      Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
      Judges: Per Curiam – Riordan, Jansen, and Fort Hood
      Issues:

      The Estates & Protected Individuals Code (MCL 700.1101 et seq.); Petition for attorney fees; Probate administration expenses; MCL 700.3803(2) & (3); Fees requested for services to the decedent’s law firm; MCL 700.3715(w); Whether MCR 5.313 barred attorney fees; Statutory construction; Robinson v. City of Lansing; MCL 700.3720 & .3721; Becht v. Miller; In re Estate of Valentino; In re Prichard Estate; Claim for a refund of an unearned retainer paid to the decedent before his death; Brewer v. Stoddard; Immediate property distribution; In re McNamera’s Estate; MCL 700.3805; In re Temple Marital Trust; Whether a constructive trust should have been imposed; Coalition Protecting Auto No-Fault v. Michigan Catastrophic Claims Ass’n; Whether a surcharge request was a basis for imposing conditions on distribution; MCL 700.3808(4); MCL 700.3712; MCL 700.3703(2); Denial of an adjournment; Soumis v. Soumis; Sanctions; The automatic stay provision in MCL 600.867(1); Comerica Bank v. City of Adrian; The requested fees; Smith v. Khouri; Vittiglio v. Vittiglio; MRPC 1.5(a); Wood v. Detroit Auto. Inter-Ins. Exch.; Distinguishing Donnelley v. Donnelley; Personal representative (PR)

      Summary:

      In these consolidated appeals, the court concluded in Docket No. 319145 that while the appellant-law firm was not entitled to some of the requested attorney fees, further proceedings were needed as to a portion of the fees. In Docket Nos. 319723 and 320189, it concluded that reconsideration of the appellee-PR’s petition for sanctions was also appropriate on remand. After the decedent, who operated a law practice as a sole practitioner, died, his wife was appointed PR. During the probate proceedings, appellant filed a petition requesting that the estate pay for services allegedly rendered in assisting the estate and PR. Appellant appealed the probate court’s order allowing the PR’s final account but disallowing the requested fees, and allowing the partial distribution of property. Appellant also appealed an order awarding attorney fees and costs as sanctions against appellant, and allowing the sanctions award to be reduced to a civil judgment. It also appealed the civil judgment. The court affirmed “the probate court’s decision to disallow any attorney fees sought by appellant in connection with legal services provided to the decedent’s former clients.” It also affirmed the probate court’s decision to consider the unnecessary expense caused by the commencement of “the proceeding as an intestate proceeding, with knowledge that the decedent had a will,” in evaluating whether the estate benefited from appellant’s services. However, because a question remained regarding the PR and the appellant’s “agreement as it related to the decedent’s law firm,” the court remanded for further proceedings on that issue. It rejected the appellant’s argument that “the probate court erred in allowing an immediate distribution of real property and office furniture” to the PR, without conditions. The court also rejected appellant’s claim that the probate court violated the automatic stay provision in MCL 600.867(1) by entering the order awarding sanctions. However, having concluded that remand was warranted for further proceedings to determine whether appellant was entitled to recover any fees that were compensable as an administrative expense of the estate, it also determined that reconsideration of the PR’s petition for sanctions was appropriate.

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    • Real Property (1)

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      e-Journal #: 60046
      Case: Chabad-Lubavitch of MI v. Schuchman
      Court: Michigan Supreme Court ( Order )
      Judges: Young, Jr., Markman, Kelly, Zahra, McCormack, and Viviano; Not participating – Bernstein
      Issues:

      Property ownership dispute between religious entities; Statute of limitations; When the plaintiff's claim accrued; MCL 600.5827; "Equitable tolling"; Trentadue v. Buckler Lawn Sprinkler; Effect of the parties' involvement in ecclesiastical dispute resolution proceedings; AFSCME v. Highland Park Bd. of Educ.; The necessity of exhaustion of religious dispute resolution remedies before filing an action in the civil courts; Buettner v. Frazer; Miller v. McClung; Dispute as to when the ecclesiastical dispute resolution process ended

      Summary: In an order in lieu of granting leave to appeal, the court reversed the Court of Appeals judgment in a published opinion (see e-Journal # 57166 in the 5/27/14 edition), holding that there were no grounds for equitably tolling the statute of limitations. “MCL 600.5827 and MCL 600.5829 govern the accrual of the plaintiffs’ claims. The statutory scheme is exclusive, and neither statute contains a provision to toll the period of limitations.” The court denied the application for leave to appeal as cross-appellants as moot.

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