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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summaries of opinions as they are released from the Michigan Supreme Court, Michigan Court of Appeals (published & unpublished), and selected U.S. Sixth Circuit.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 Court of Appeals published opinion under Family Law and one Michigan Court of Appeals published-after-release opinion under Healthcare Law/Insurance.


Cases appear under the following practice areas:

  • Criminal Law (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 73399
    Case: People v. Nixon
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Stephens, O’Brien, and Redford
    Issues:

    Motion to quash the information & dismiss the charges; People v. Lowery; People v. Anderson; Probable cause; People v. Taylor; People v. Seewald; Identity; People v. Bass

    Summary:

    Holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in determining that there was probable cause to bind defendant over on armed robbery and felony-firearm charges, the court reversed the circuit court’s order granting his motion to quash the bindover and dismissing the charges. Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, the court concluded that it offered sufficient evidence at the preliminary exam to establish probable cause to bind defendant over for trial. The evidence showed that victims-Z and H “were accosted by two men who demanded money, one of whom pointed a handgun at” Z, then at H, and then fired the gun at H’s car. H testified that, as he tried to flee in his car, “the two men physically contacted his vehicle in an effort to cause him to stop. The perpetrator with the gun” tried to open the driver-side door. He saw the other man hit “the front of his car with his hand. After the incident, police officers found a shell casing on the ground in the parking lot and possible blood drops located on the passenger-side door of” H’s car. An officer “photographed, collected, and placed into evidence samples of the blood . . . .” Test results showed “to an extraordinarily high degree of probability that the DNA from the blood found on” H’s car matched that obtained from defendant pursuant to a warrant. The court found that “the district court could reasonably infer, consistent with the theory of the case presented by the prosecution, that the drops of defendant’s blood on [H’s] vehicle were deposited there when defendant, as one of the two perpetrators of the charged crimes, struck [H’s] vehicle’s passenger side during the commission of the" crimes. The trial court noted that H “testified that the assailant hit the front of the vehicle’s passenger side near the hood, but police found defendant’s blood on the passenger-side door between the handle and the window.” The court noted that, even if this could be found to be inconsistent, “the presentation of contradictory or inconsistent evidence at a preliminary examination is not fatal to a district court’s decision to bind over a defendant.” The fact that some of the evidence may not perfectly align was for the triers of fact to resolve at trial. Remanded for reinstatement of the charges.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Family Law (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 73428
    Case: Skaates v. Kayser
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Published Opinion )
    Judges: Murray, Meter, and K.F. Kelly
    Issues:

    Divorce; Enforceability of a postnuptial agreement; Hodge v. Parks; Randall v. Randall; Lentz v. Lentz; Rockwell v. Rockwell’s Estate; Ransford v. Yens; Day v. Chamberlain; Duress; Allard v. Allard; Whether there was a material breach when a party failed to follow a “cooling off” provision; Michaels v. Amway Corp.; Holtzlander v. Brownell; Asset disclosure; In re Benker’s Estate; In re Oversmith’s Estate; Property division; Woodington v. Shokoohi; Invasion of separate assets; MCL 552.23(1) & 552.401; Allard v. Allard (On Remand); Attorney fees; Reed v. Reed; MCR 3.206(D)(1) & (2)(a); Loutts v. Loutts

    Summary:

    Rejecting the proposition that all postnuptial agreements addressing property rights in the event of a divorce that are made by happily married couples are invalid as a matter of law, the court held that the one here was not against public policy. It also rejected defendant-ex-husband’s claim that he signed the agreement under duress, and concluded that plaintiff-ex-wife did not materially breach it by failing to follow a cooling off provision before filing for divorce. As to his asset disclosure claim, the undisputed evidence showed that he was aware of the coins in question. Further, given that the trial court determined the property distribution in the agreement “was fair and equitable, it properly ruled that Allard” did not apply. Finally, the court rejected his claim he was entitled to attorney fees. It found that Ransford was “the most applicable case to resolving the validity of the parties’ agreement. And, it is an example of a postnuptial agreement upheld by the Supreme Court when it was entered into by a married couple living together while setting forth their respective rights and obligations as to existing property and future obligations should a divorce or separation occur.” The court noted that the plain language of the parties’ agreement stated “their mutual desire ‘to define and clarify their respective rights in each other’s property and in any jointly owned property . . . .’” Nothing in the agreement indicated “it was created in contemplation of a future separation or divorce. In fact, [it] contained terms to help support the marriage.” The court also rejected defendant’s assertion that the agreement’s property “division made it more attractive for plaintiff to divorce him. In fact, as the trial court recognized, the evidence is the opposite.” The court found it important that they “discussed and negotiated the agreement for 16 months, most of which was” before they were married. It was supposed to be a prenuptial agreement, and only became a postnuptial one due to time constraints. The court agreed with the trial court that, because this agreement “addressed the disposition of property at death or in case of divorce, and otherwise allowed the parties to pursue their marriage in a manner most likely to allow it to flourish, and was not otherwise inequitable in its terms, it was not contrary to public policy.” It affirmed the divorce judgment and order ruling that the agreement was enforceable.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Healthcare Law (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    This summary also appears under Insurance

    e-Journal #: 73427
    Case: Physiatry & Rehab. Assocs. v. Westfield Ins. Co.
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Published-After-Release Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam - Sawyer, Letica, and Redford
    Issues:

    Action seeking personal protection insurance (PIP) benefits for healthcare services provided to an insured; Discharge of an insurer’s liability; MCL 500.3112; Covenant Med. Ctr., Inc. v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co.

    Summary:

    [This opinion was previously released as an unpublished opinion on 4/23/20.] The court held that the trial court did not err by granting summary disposition for defendant-insurer on plaintiff-healthcare provider’s claim for PIP benefits. In the underlying action, defendant’s insured (A) sought PIP benefits for injuries he sustained in an auto accident. He later executed an assignment of benefits for plaintiff. The underlying litigation eventually settled and the parties signed a release. Meanwhile, plaintiff filed this action against defendant, seeking reimbursement for services it provided to A following the accident. The trial court granted summary disposition for defendant. On appeal, the court rejected plaintiff’s argument that the release only applied to the specific claims A included in the underlying litigation, and any reference to all claims in the release created an ambiguity. “While the settlement may have arisen out of the claims made in the litigation, i.e., a claim for PIP benefits, it clearly and unambiguously released all claims, past, present, and future.” Moreover, A “explicitly agreed to pay all unpaid medical expenses from the settlement.” As the trial court concluded, “there is no way to read the release in any other manner.” The court also agreed with both the trial court and defendant that plaintiff’s claim was barred by MCL 500.3112. In sum, A “entered into a settlement which release[d] all claims, past, present, and future that he had against defendant and agreed to pay all medical bills arising from the accident from the settlement.” Moreover, he failed to provide any “evidence that a written copy of the assignment was ever provided to defendant before the settlement agreement was entered into.” Affirmed.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Insurance (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    This summary also appears under Healthcare Law

    e-Journal #: 73427
    Case: Physiatry & Rehab. Assocs. v. Westfield Ins. Co.
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Published-After-Release Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam - Sawyer, Letica, and Redford
    Issues:

    Action seeking personal protection insurance (PIP) benefits for healthcare services provided to an insured; Discharge of an insurer’s liability; MCL 500.3112; Covenant Med. Ctr., Inc. v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co.

    Summary:

    [This opinion was previously released as an unpublished opinion on 4/23/20.] The court held that the trial court did not err by granting summary disposition for defendant-insurer on plaintiff-healthcare provider’s claim for PIP benefits. In the underlying action, defendant’s insured (A) sought PIP benefits for injuries he sustained in an auto accident. He later executed an assignment of benefits for plaintiff. The underlying litigation eventually settled and the parties signed a release. Meanwhile, plaintiff filed this action against defendant, seeking reimbursement for services it provided to A following the accident. The trial court granted summary disposition for defendant. On appeal, the court rejected plaintiff’s argument that the release only applied to the specific claims A included in the underlying litigation, and any reference to all claims in the release created an ambiguity. “While the settlement may have arisen out of the claims made in the litigation, i.e., a claim for PIP benefits, it clearly and unambiguously released all claims, past, present, and future.” Moreover, A “explicitly agreed to pay all unpaid medical expenses from the settlement.” As the trial court concluded, “there is no way to read the release in any other manner.” The court also agreed with both the trial court and defendant that plaintiff’s claim was barred by MCL 500.3112. In sum, A “entered into a settlement which release[d] all claims, past, present, and future that he had against defendant and agreed to pay all medical bills arising from the accident from the settlement.” Moreover, he failed to provide any “evidence that a written copy of the assignment was ever provided to defendant before the settlement agreement was entered into.” Affirmed.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Litigation (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 73396
    Case: Grant v. Nolan
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam - Stephens, O'Brien, and Redford
    Issues:

    Waiver of defects in the jury instructions & verdict forms; Varran v. Granneman (On Remand); Walters v. Nadell; Johnson Family Ltd. P’ship v. White Pine Wireless, LLC; Whether grounds for a new trial were established; MCR 2.611(A)(1); MCR 2.612(C); Principle that generally only one recovery is allowed for an injury; Grace v. Grace; Actual damages in tort cases; Hannay v. Department of Transp.; Exemplary damages; B & B Inv. Group v. Gitler; McPeak v. McPeak; Shaw v. Ecorse; Presumption jurors follow their instructions; Lenawee Cnty. v. Wagley; Reluctance to overturn a jury’s verdict; Clark v. Kmart Corp. (On Remand)

    Summary:

    The court held that defendants “waived any defects in the jury instructions and verdict forms in this matter by affirmatively agreeing to all of them before the jury was charged in the trial court.” Also, the record did not support the trial court’s decision to disturb the jury’s decision and the court was satisfied that the verdict was not inconsistent with substantial justice. Thus, the trial court abused its discretion in granting defendant-Nolan a new trial. Plaintiff argued that Nolan “failed to establish any ground for a new trial and that the trial court abused its discretion by granting” him one on grounds that he never raised. Plaintiff also argued “defendants waived these arguments by affirmatively agreeing to all instructions and jury verdict forms utilized.” Plaintiff further claimed “that the trial court abused its discretion by basing its decision on unfounded presumptions that the jury awarded plaintiff a double recovery because of its exemplary damages instruction.” The court agreed that the trial court abused its discretion by disturbing the jury’s verdict. The trial court held a conference with the parties as to “the jury instructions and the verdict forms to present to the jury for their determination of the issues presented in this case. After that conference, the trial court required the parties’ placement on the record their affirmation of their approval of the instructions and verdict forms. Each defendant affirmed his satisfaction with the instructions and verdict forms. After the trial court instructed the jury and explained the verdict forms’s use to them, the trial court asked each party if he had any issue with the instructions given to the jury.” The parties “confirmed their respective approval of the instructions and the verdict forms provided to the jury.” In so doing, they “voluntarily and intentionally relinquished their respective rights to claim any error regarding the jury instructions and the verdict forms, and they waived any right to seek a new trial on the ground that the trial court failed to properly instruct the jury or provide them an adequate verdict form. Their waivers extinguished any claim of error.” Reversed and remanded for reinstatement of the jury’s verdict.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Municipal (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    This summary also appears under Negligence & Intentional Tort

    e-Journal #: 73390
    Case: Gilewski v. City of Detroit
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Jansen and Markey; Concurrence – Murray
    Issues:

    Governmental Tort Liability Act (MCL 691.1402 et seq.); MCL 691.1407(1); The highway exception; MCL 691.1402(1); MCL 691.1403; Notice of the defect; Wilson v. Alpena Cnty. Rd. Comm’n; Whether the sunken cold patch created a defect that rendered the highway not reasonably safe & convenient for public travel; Defect; Jones v. Detroit; Kozak v. City of Lincoln Park; Detroit Water & Sewage Department (DWSD)

    Summary:

    Holding that a question of material fact remained as to notice and whether a defect rendered the affected portion of the highway “not reasonably safe and convenient for public travel,” the court concluded the trial court did not err by denying defendant-city’s motion for summary disposition. Plaintiff-Kimberly’s scooter hit the “sunken cold patch on Jefferson Ave, and she was thrown from the scooter and injured.” The city argued that plaintiffs failed to establish that it had actual or constructive notice of the sunken cold patch. The court agreed that plaintiffs failed to present any evidence that would indicate the city had actual notice. However, it held that plaintiffs did establish a question of fact as to whether the city had constructive notice of a defect that would render Jefferson Ave not reasonably safe and convenient for public travel. Thus, it concluded that the record was sufficient to create a question of fact as to whether the city “knew or should have known that the water main repair work was faulty, and resulted in a defect that made Jefferson Ave not reasonably safe or convenient for public travel.” The company that repaired the water main break and completed temporary pavement restoration “knew of its contractual responsibility to adequately compact the backfill materials as evidenced by the contract between" it and the city. The DWSD construction inspector “testified that such testing was not performed on this job.” Plaintiffs' expert’s report indicated “that if such testing had been performed, the settling would not have occurred, the cold patch would not have sunk, and Kimberly’s injuries would have been prevented.” Thus, the trial court did not err by determining that a question of fact remained as to whether the city had notice as required under MCL 691.1402(1). The city also argued that the trial court erred in determining that a question of fact remained as to “whether the sunken cold patch created a defect that rendered Jefferson Ave not reasonably safe and convenient for public travel.” The section of highway “where Kimberly was injured was not merely a ‘rough or uneven’ section of the road. A four-inch difference in elevation is significant.” As the Michigan Supreme Court announced in Kozak, “based on the ‘photographic proof of a significant gap of elevation between’ the roadway and the cold patch, ‘a reasonable jury could conclude that the highway was not in a state of reasonable repair so that it was reasonably safe and convenient for public travel.’” Thus, the court held that the trial court correctly found a question of material fact as to this issue remained. Affirmed.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Negligence & Intentional Tort (2)

    Full Text Opinion

    This summary also appears under Municipal

    e-Journal #: 73390
    Case: Gilewski v. City of Detroit
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Jansen and Markey; Concurrence – Murray
    Issues:

    Governmental Tort Liability Act (MCL 691.1402 et seq.); MCL 691.1407(1); The highway exception; MCL 691.1402(1); MCL 691.1403; Notice of the defect; Wilson v. Alpena Cnty. Rd. Comm’n; Whether the sunken cold patch created a defect that rendered the highway not reasonably safe & convenient for public travel; Defect; Jones v. Detroit; Kozak v. City of Lincoln Park; Detroit Water & Sewage Department (DWSD)

    Summary:

    Holding that a question of material fact remained as to notice and whether a defect rendered the affected portion of the highway “not reasonably safe and convenient for public travel,” the court concluded the trial court did not err by denying defendant-city’s motion for summary disposition. Plaintiff-Kimberly’s scooter hit the “sunken cold patch on Jefferson Ave, and she was thrown from the scooter and injured.” The city argued that plaintiffs failed to establish that it had actual or constructive notice of the sunken cold patch. The court agreed that plaintiffs failed to present any evidence that would indicate the city had actual notice. However, it held that plaintiffs did establish a question of fact as to whether the city had constructive notice of a defect that would render Jefferson Ave not reasonably safe and convenient for public travel. Thus, it concluded that the record was sufficient to create a question of fact as to whether the city “knew or should have known that the water main repair work was faulty, and resulted in a defect that made Jefferson Ave not reasonably safe or convenient for public travel.” The company that repaired the water main break and completed temporary pavement restoration “knew of its contractual responsibility to adequately compact the backfill materials as evidenced by the contract between" it and the city. The DWSD construction inspector “testified that such testing was not performed on this job.” Plaintiffs' expert’s report indicated “that if such testing had been performed, the settling would not have occurred, the cold patch would not have sunk, and Kimberly’s injuries would have been prevented.” Thus, the trial court did not err by determining that a question of fact remained as to whether the city had notice as required under MCL 691.1402(1). The city also argued that the trial court erred in determining that a question of fact remained as to “whether the sunken cold patch created a defect that rendered Jefferson Ave not reasonably safe and convenient for public travel.” The section of highway “where Kimberly was injured was not merely a ‘rough or uneven’ section of the road. A four-inch difference in elevation is significant.” As the Michigan Supreme Court announced in Kozak, “based on the ‘photographic proof of a significant gap of elevation between’ the roadway and the cold patch, ‘a reasonable jury could conclude that the highway was not in a state of reasonable repair so that it was reasonably safe and convenient for public travel.’” Thus, the court held that the trial court correctly found a question of material fact as to this issue remained. Affirmed.

    Full Text Opinion

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 73394
    Case: Oprisiu v. Acy, LLC
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam - Stephens, O'Brien, and Redford
    Issues:

    Slip & fall; Premises liability; Benton v. Dart Props., Inc.; Lugo v. Ameritech Corp., Inc.; Open & obvious dangers; Buhalis v. Trinity Continuing Care Servs.; Consideration of the weather conditions; Estate of Trueblood v. P&G Apts., LLC; Janson v. Sajewski Funeral Home, Inc.; Slaughter v. Blarney Castle Oil Co.

    Summary:

    Holding that the complained-of condition was open and obvious, the court affirmed the trial court’s order granting summary disposition to defendant. Plaintiff slipped and fell in a parking lot owned by defendant. She argued “that she could not have slipped on slush because slush is not slippery, and so the only explanation for her fall is that she slipped on ice that was beneath the slush.” While the trial court questioned her “assertion that she could not have possibly slipped on slush, it is ultimately irrelevant whether plaintiff slipped on ice or slush because either condition was open and obvious.” The wintry conditions were clearly present. “Defendant produced weather reports showing that the temperature had been well below freezing since the day before plaintiff’s fall, and that it had been lightly snowing in the area of plaintiff’s fall for the four hours before her fall. Plaintiff testified that she was wearing a winter coat and winter boots.” Further, the court noted that “plaintiff, who was a life-long Michigan resident, readily observed the wintry conditions of the parking lot. Plaintiff testified that when she pulled into the parking lot, she saw that ‘the whole parking lot’ was covered in slush.” The court noted because snow and ice are generally open and obvious, and she “admitted that she saw the that the entire parking lot was covered with slush, and ‘the presence of wintery weather conditions’ would have alerted ‘a reasonably prudent person’ to ‘the danger of slipping and falling,’” the ice or slush that she slipped on was open and obvious. She contended that this case was akin to Slaughter. Based on the conditions surrounding her fall, the court held that this case was clearly not analogous to Slaughter. Plaintiff contended that Slaughter “stands for the proposition that courts should ‘not focus on the wintry conditions.’” This was incorrect. In an order issued after Slaughter, the Michigan Supreme Court explained that Slaughter “was correctly decided because it considered whether black ice was ‘open and obvious when there are “indicia of a potentially hazardous condition,” including the “specific weather conditions present at the time of the plaintiff’s fall.”’ . . . Thus, courts should consider the weather conditions surrounding a plaintiff’s fall because they weigh directly on whether there were sufficient indicia of a potentially hazardous condition of which plaintiff should have been aware.” Therefore, based on the weather conditions surrounding her “fall and her acknowledgment that the slush and wintry conditions of the parking lot were readily observable, the slush or ice that plaintiff slipped on was open and obvious.”

    Full Text Opinion

  • Termination of Parental Rights (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 73402
    Case: In re Reveles
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Borrello, Ronayne Krause, and Riordan
    Issues:

    Termination under §§ 19b(3)(c)(i), (g), & (j); Due process; In re Rood; In re Ferranti; Plain error review; In re Beers; No-contest pleas; MCR 3.971(B); In re Pederson; MCR 3.971(B)(1) & (4); Principle that the court is a court of record; MCR 7.210(A); People v. Young; People v. Martzke; Johnston v. Manhattan Fire & Marine Ins. Co.; Purpose of a no contest plea; Lichon v. American Universal Ins. Co.; Matter of Andino; Bright-line rules; Hartford v. Holmes; Ross v. Highway Comm’rs of Taylor Twp.; Pellegrino v. AMPCO Sys. Parking

    Summary:

    The court concluded that because nothing in the record showed that respondents-parents “were actually aware of the allegations in the petition or that their pleas could be used against them at a later termination proceeding,” it was constrained to hold “that MCR 3.971(B)(1) and (4) were violated and that respondents were deprived of their due process rights as a” result. Thus, the trial court did not have the dispositional authority to terminate their parental rights. The court noted that it did not believe Ferranti precluded the trial court and the DHHS “from taking into consideration on remand any and all up-to-date information” as to the children and respondents. It held that two significant and obvious failures occurred here. First, it found “it difficult to imagine either respondent was not actually aware of the allegations in the petition, whether by reading it or by consulting with their attorneys.” However, there was no actual record evidence to this effect. “Thus, MCR 3.971(B)(1) was plainly and clearly violated.” The court thought “that due process might have been satisfied if it had been unambiguously established on the record that respondents were fully aware of the contents of the petitions.” But their actual awareness of the contents could not be reasonably inferred from the record evidence. Thus, the court was constrained by Ferranti to hold that their “pleas were not knowing and therefore not voluntary on this basis. Secondly, neither respondent was advised that their plea could later be used as evidence in a proceeding to terminate their parental rights. Thus, MCR 3.971(B)(4) was also plainly and clearly violated.” The court found “it difficult to believe that this error was harmful, because respondents each entered pleas of no contest.” In contrast to pleas of admission, it did “not understand what practical evidence could later be presented based solely on respondents’ decisions to forego a procedural safeguard.” However, the fact remained that there was “nothing in the record to show that either respondent understood that their plea could be used as evidence against them in a later proceeding.” Thus, Ferranti required it to hold that their “pleas were also not knowing and therefore not voluntary on this basis.” The court found this determination perplexing because neither of them argued “that they would have declined to enter their pleas, if only the trial court had read the petitions to them on the record or advised them that their pleas might be used against them.” Vacated and remanded.

    Full Text Opinion

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