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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summaries of opinions as they are released from the Michigan Supreme Court, Michigan Court of Appeals (published & unpublished), and selected U.S. Sixth Circuit.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 two Michigan Supreme Court opinions under Administrative Law/Workers' Compensation and Civil Rights, one Michigan Supreme Court order under Criminal Law and four Michigan Court of Appeals published opinions under Family Law/Litigation, Insurance, and Negligence & Intentional Tort.


Cases appear under the following practice areas:

  • Administrative Law (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    This summary also appears under Workers' Compensation

    e-Journal #: 77872
    Case: Jordan v. Department of Health & Human Servs.
    Court: Michigan Supreme Court ( Opinion )
    Judges: McCormack, Zahra, Viviano, Bernstein, Clement, Cavanagh, and Welch; Concurrence – Viviano; Separate Concurrence – Bernstein; Separate Concurrence – Cavanagh and Welch
    Issues:

    Disability benefits under the Workers’ Disability Compensation Act (WDCA); “Disability”; MCL 418.301(4)(a); Independent medical examination (IME); MCL 418.385; The Michigan Compensation Appellate Commission’s (MCAC) authority to perform its own fact-finding; MCL 418.861a(14); Mudel v Great Atl & Pac Tea Co; Traceability of injuries & treatment; Staggs v Genesee Dist Library

    Summary:

    Holding that the record in this matter was too incomplete to facilitate meaningful appellate review and that the Court of Appeals erred by adjudicating the case as a matter of law rather than remanding for factual development, the court vacated the opinion of the Court of Appeals and remanded to the MCAC for further proceedings. Plaintiff was working for defendant’s predecessor when she was injured at work in 1995. She was prescribed opioid medication and eventually became dependent on it. She began receiving disability benefits in 1996, but defendant discontinued her benefits after a 2015 IME. She applied for reinstatement of her benefits, but the magistrate denied her claim, finding her loss of wage-earning capacity was not related to the original injury, but to her opioid dependency. The MCAC reversed, finding her opioid use was directly traceable to treatment for the injury. The Court of Appeals then reversed the MCAC, finding Staggs was “inapplicable because plaintiff’s ‘use of opioids was part of ongoing treatment over several years and because this case concerns whether’” she was entitled to continue receiving benefits in 2015, the injury-treatment examination “must be viewed under the circumstances that existed in 2015.” But the court found the record “too incomplete to facilitate meaningful” appellate review, noting the MCAC “did not explain what the factual support was for finding that plaintiff was disabled[.]” The MCAC concluded that plaintiff’s opioid use precluded her from the workforce “without explaining whether the experts’ conclusions were equivalent or whether they could be reconciled.” In addition, it “did not support its conclusion that any limitation here ‘result[ed] from a personal injury or work-related disease’” with factual findings, “either those made by the magistrate or pursuant to its own review of the record.” Meanwhile, the magistrate “did not make sufficient findings for either the MCAC or the judiciary to determine whether there was legal error in its determination that plaintiff was no longer entitled to benefits, and the MCAC did not supplement those deficient findings.” Thus, the Court of Appeals “erred by deciding this case as a matter of law” as further administrative proceedings were needed.

    Justice Viviano, concurring, wrote separately to explain his view that on remand the MCAC or the magistrate should consider “whether plaintiff had an affirmative duty to seek reasonable treatment for her opioid addiction and, if so, whether the failure to do so broke the chain of causation such that her ongoing opioid addiction is no longer traceable to her 1995 workplace injury.”

    Justice Bernstein, concurring, agreed fully with the majority, but wrote separately because “neither the language of the relevant statutes nor the language of the applicable administrative rules provides sufficient instruction about how to properly adjudicate this issue.”

    Justice Cavanagh, joined by Justice Welch, also concurring, agreed with the majority that a remand to the MCAC for additional factual findings was necessary for judicial review, but wrote separately “to describe in greater detail why the factual findings of the magistrate and the MCAC were insufficient and to provide guidance as to what factual findings are required on remand.”

    Full Text Opinion

  • Civil Rights (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 77873
    Case: Rouch World, LLC v. Department of Civil Rights
    Court: Michigan Supreme Court ( Opinion )
    Judges: Clement, McCormack, Bernstein, Cavanagh, and Welch; Dissent – Zahra; Separate Dissent – Viviano
    Issues:

    The Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA); Prohibition on discrimination in places of public accommodation; MCL 37.2302(a); Interpretive Statement 2018-1; Prohibition on discrimination “because of . . . sex”; Discrimination based on sexual orientation; Barbour v Department of Soc Servs; Bostock v Clayton Cnty; Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR)

    Summary:

    Holding that the ELCRA’s prohibition on discrimination “because of . . . sex” encompasses discrimination based on sexual orientation, the court overruled the Court of Appeals decision in Barbour and reversed in part the Court of Claims decision in this case. The action arose from defendant-MDCR’s investigation into two complaints. One alleged plaintiff-Rouch World discriminated on the basis of sex by declining to host a same-sex wedding at its facility. The other alleged that plaintiff-Uprooted Electrolysis discriminated on the basis of sex when it denied hair-removal services to a transgender woman. Plaintiffs jointly sued the MDCR and its then director, seeking “a declaratory judgment that sexual orientation and gender identity are not encompassed by the ELCRA’s prohibition of sex discrimination in places of public accommodation and an injunction prohibiting the continued investigation of the complaints filed against plaintiffs and the MDCR’s continued adherence to Interpretive Statement 2018-1.” The Court of Claims denied defendants summary disposition as to Rouch World, concluding it was bound by Barbour, in which the Court of Appeals held that “the ELCRA’s discrimination prohibition did not encompass sexual orientation.” But it granted defendants summary disposition as to Uprooted Electrolysis, noting that “Barbour did not concern gender-identity discrimination” and relying in part on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock. On appeal, the court noted that the cases on which the Court of Appeals relied in Barbour were overturned in Bostock, in which a majority of the U.S. Supreme Court “held that discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity is necessarily encompassed within discrimination because of sex.” The court found that the issue was “whether complainants who were denied service because of their sexual orientation would not have been so denied but for their sex.” It concluded that “a person’s sexual orientation necessarily implies conclusions about their sex,” and thus, discrimination “on the basis of sexual orientation necessarily constitutes discrimination because of sex. Accordingly, the denial of ‘the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of a place of public accommodation or public service’ on the basis of sexual orientation constitutes discrimination ‘because of . . . sex’ and, therefore, constitutes a violation of the ELCRA under MCL 37.2302(a).” Remanded.

    Dissenting, Justice Zahra concluded that the “best interpretation of the ELCRA, in light of the available evidence about its original public meaning, is that its prohibition on discrimination in public accommodations ‘because of . . . sex’ does not encompass a prohibition on sexual-orientation discrimination.” While he took “no issue with today’s outcome, because I do not recognize the manner in which it has been achieved by the majority opinion to be faithful to the judicial role,” he would affirm the Court of Claims’ decision.

    Separately dissenting, Justice Viviano concluded that MCL 37.2302(a) “requires that the defendant maintain some prejudice, bias, animus, or belief about ‘sex’ or the other characteristics protected by the statute.” This is a threshold element he found was not met – “discrimination on the basis of one’s sexual orientation is not discrimination because of some prejudice, bias, animus, or belief about the male sex or the female sex.” Further, even if a but-for standard applied, a “proper application of the but-for test takes into account the defendant’s motive.”

    Full Text Opinion

  • Criminal Law (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 77871
    Case: People v. Poole
    Court: Michigan Supreme Court ( Order )
    Judges: McCormack, Bernstein, Cavanagh, and Welch; Dissent – Viviano; Separate Dissent – Clement and Zahra
    Issues:

    Delayed application for leave to appeal; Requirements to file a successive motion for relief from judgment pursuant to MCR 6.502(G)(2); “Retroactive change in the law”; People v Stovall; Miller v Alabama; Montgomery v Louisiana; People v Parks; Life without the possibility of parole (LWOP)

    Summary:

    The court concluded the Court of Appeals erred in dismissing defendant’s application for leave to appeal, because he met the requirements to file a successive motion for relief from judgment. It held that Miller and Montgomery served “as the ‘foundation’ or ‘base’ for” his challenges to the constitutionality of his mandatory LWOP sentence. Thus, his motion was “based on a retroactive change in law” and overcame MCR 6.502(G)’s procedural bar, and the Court of Appeals and trial court erred in concluding otherwise. He was convicted of first-degree murder for a crime he committed when he was 18 years old. After his appeals were unsuccessful, he “twice previously moved for relief from judgment, pursuant to MCR 6.500.” This was his third motion. Because the merits of his motion were not “considered under MCR 6.500, on remand, the Court of Appeals shall determine whether” he is entitled to relief based on the court’s holding in Parks that mandatory LWOP “sentences imposed on 18-year-old defendants are categorically disproportionate and thus unconstitutional under Const 1963, art 1, § 16. Under Parks, such offenders are entitled to the full protections and procedures afforded to juveniles in Michigan’s sentencing scheme, MCL 769.25, including a consideration of the attributes of youth as described in Miller,” before imposing a sentence for first-degree murder. “The Court of Appeals shall determine what remedy, if any, is available to defendant under Parks, including whether defendant should be resentenced pursuant to MCL 769.25a.”

    Dissenting, Justice Viviano reiterated, for the reasons stated in his dissent in Stovall, that he did not believe defendant overcame “the procedural bar to file a successive motion for relief from judgment and would deny leave to appeal under MCR 6.502(G). But even if defendant could overcome the procedural bar,” Justice Viviano would find that his constitutional argument failed for the reasons stated by Justice Clement in her dissent in Parks.

    Separately dissenting, Justice Clement (joined by Justice Zahra) agreed that defendant “met the procedural bar in MCR 6.502(G)(2) because his motion is ‘based on a retroactive change in law . . . .’” But for the reasons stated in her dissent in Parks, she did not believe he “should be afforded relief on the merits, as he was 18 years old when he committed first-degree murder and I believe he is constitutionally subject to the mandatory” LWOP sentence set out by the Legislature. Thus, she would deny leave to appeal.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Family Law (2)

    Full Text Opinion

    This summary also appears under Litigation

    e-Journal #: 77877
    Case: Butters v. Butters
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Published Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Gleicher, Gadola, and Yates
    Issues:

    Child custody; Motion for a change in custody; Objections to a referee’s recommendations; Request for a de novo hearing; MCL 552.507(4)-(6); Conduct of the judicial hearing; MCR 3.215(E)(4) & (F)(2); Alleged violation of court rules on document formatting; MCR 1.109(D)(1), (2), & (6); MCR 8.119(C); Established custodial environment (ECE); Berger v Berger; Child’s best interests; Pierron v Pierron; Parenting-time bond

    Summary:

    The court held that the trial court erred by failing to hold a live hearing at which plaintiff-mother could present evidence, subject to certain restrictions permitted by the court rules. It also held that the evidence adduced at the evidentiary hearing clearly preponderated against the referee’s finding that the children no longer had an ECE with plaintiff. Thus, it vacated the trial court’s order denying her objection and affirming the referee’s recommended order granting defendant-father’s motion for a change in custody of the parties’ children, and remanded for the trial court to hold a de novo hearing. It also directed the trial court to apply the best-interest factors under the clear and convincing evidence standard and vacated the $15,000 parenting-time bond imposed by the trial court. The referee found the children’s ECE was with the father and that he showed the proposed change was in their best interests. The referee also recommended awarding plaintiff supervised parenting time and requiring her to post the bond. The trial court, after reviewing the record the referee created, but without holding a de novo hearing, denied plaintiff’s objection. After initially denying her objection based on formatting violations, it also denied it and affirmed the referee’s recommended order on the basis that none of her arguments were persuasive and none of the referee’s findings of fact or conclusions of law were incorrect. The court held that the “formatting violations were not a proper basis for denying plaintiff’s objection and request for a de novo hearing.” First, defendant cited “no authority, nor have we found any, that allows a court to deny a motion or objection to a referee’s recommendation and order on the basis of formatting without some kind of notice to the party.” In addition, the court rule upon which the trial court relied “allows the clerk of the court to reject a filing on the basis of formatting errors. That did not occur in this case, and the rule does not give additional authority to the court to reject a party’s objections on the basis of formatting errors after the clerk has accepted the document for filing.” Second, because plaintiff “filed timely objections to the referee’s recommended opinion and order and asked for a judicial hearing, she was entitled to a live hearing at which she could present evidence, subject to the trial court’s reasonable restrictions. The trial court was permitted to render its decision on the basis of the referee’s record, but it was required by statute and court rule to allow the parties to appear and present evidence, subject to certain restrictions.” Finally, the referee’s ECE finding was erroneous and the bond order finding was not properly fleshed out.

    Full Text Opinion

    Full Text Opinion

    This summary also appears under Litigation

    e-Journal #: 77876
    Case: Zalewski v. Zalewski
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Published Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Jansen, O’Brien, and Hood
    Issues:

    Circuit court jurisdiction in actions for divorce & separate maintenance; MCL 552.6(1) & MCL 552.7(1); Intervention & third-party joinder in a divorce case; Estes v Estes; Yedinak v. Yedinak; Killingbeck v Killingbeck; Appellate standing; Federated Ins Co v Oakland Cnty Rd Comm’n; League of Women Voters of MI v Secretary of State; “Aggrieved party”; In re Estate of Trankla; Effect of a failure to take the proper procedural steps for review; Burton-Harris v Wayne Cnty Clerk (Burton-Harris II)

    Summary:

    The court held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying appellant-DHHS’s motion for reconsideration of its order for spousal support directing the transfer of essentially all defendant-husband’s assets and income to plaintiff-wife. Plaintiff filed a complaint for separate maintenance stating she and defendant lived together as husband and wife for years until he suffered a stroke that required his placement in a nursing home. She claimed that if she ever became disabled her income and assets would be insufficient to support herself if his income and assets would be used to pay for his care in the nursing home or long-term care facility. She noted that once on Medicaid, 100% of his care needs would be met by his Medicaid benefits. Plaintiff asked the trial court to order defendant to pay spousal support “in the amount of [the] total marital estate” and assign his social security income to her. The parties stipulated to entry of a support order, which the trial court entered. “Designating itself as an ‘interested party,’ DHHS moved for reconsideration of the support order.” The trial court agreed with plaintiff and defendant “that third-party intervention in domestic-relations matters was only permitted in limited circumstances that did not apply to DHHS,” and denied its motion for reconsideration. On appeal, the court agreed with plaintiff that the only issue properly before it was whether the trial court abused its discretion by denying DHHS’s motion for reconsideration. “Plaintiff and defendant were the only proper parties in this action for separate maintenance. There was no suggestion that DHHS conspired with either party to defraud the other, so DHHS’s involvement in this case does not fall within the narrow fraud exception for third-party joinder. Rather, DHHS moved for reconsideration of the support order on the basis that it improperly placed the financial burden of defendant’s long-term care on DHHS.” As such, the trial court “did not abuse its discretion by denying DHHS’s motion for reconsideration. Like any other person claiming to be adversely affected by the support order, DHHS had to pursue a remedy through means other than involvement in the divorce proceedings.” The court then concluded that even if DHHS had appellate standing, “it did not follow the appropriate procedural requirements to challenge the support order on appeal.” DHHS never moved to intervene in the case, “either before the trial court or on appeal. Thus, like in Burton-Harris, the only issue properly before” the court was the trial court’s denial of its motion for reconsideration.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Insurance (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 77874
    Case: Abraham v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co.
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Published Opinion )
    Judges: Hood, Jansen, and O’Brien
    Issues:

    The No-Fault Act; “Owner” (MCL 500.3101(3)(l)); Chop v Zielinski; Twichel v MIC Gen Ins Corp; Priority for payment of personal protection insurance (PIP) benefits; MCL 500.3114(1) & (3); Distinguishing Turner v Farmers Ins Exch

    Summary:

    The court held that defendants-Enterprise Leasing Company of Detroit and Nexen were both “owners” of the vehicle involved in the accident (the Transit), and that Enterprise was first in priority to pay plaintiff-Abraham’s PIP benefits. Thus, it reversed the trial court’s order granting Enterprise’s summary disposition motion and denying defendant-State Farm’s countermotion for summary disposition. At the time of the accident, Abraham was driving the Transit, which was provided to her by Nexen, her employer. The first issue was “whether Nexen and Enterprise constitute ‘owners’ of the Transit[.]” As to Nexen, the court concluded it could be an owner “under MCL 500.3101(3)(l)(i) if it had use of the Transit for more than 30 days, regardless of whether the rental agreement in effect at the time of the accident was for only 28 days.” It noted that before “that agreement, Nexen had several other rental agreements with Enterprise, each for 28 days, related to the Transit.” The record showed it rented the Transit from Enterprise starting in 6/18 and kept it into 1/19. Further, “Nexen did not return the Transit to Enterprise at the end of each rental agreement. Instead, Nexen kept possession of the Transit and Enterprise simply rewrote the rental agreement. Thus, the arrangement between Nexen and Enterprise gave Nexen use of the vehicle for approximately six months before the accident, a period significantly longer than the 30 days required by MCL 500.3101(3)(l)(i). Consistent with Twichel, and despite the 28-day period established by the individual rental agreements, because Nexen had use of the Transit for more than 30 days before the accident,” it qualified as an owner under MCL 500.3101(3)(l)(i). As to Enterprise, “reading MCL 500.3101(3)(l)(i) and (3)(l)(iii) as a whole, there must be a single lease providing the requisite use (30 days or more) of the Transit to Nexen for Enterprise to be excluded from the definition of ‘owner’ of the Transit. Because the lease” here did not do so, Enterprise was also an owner. Lastly, the court agreed with State Farm that Enterprise was first in priority to pay “Abraham’s PIP benefits because Enterprise insured the Transit.” While Enterprise relied on Turner, this case was distinguishable. Because Nexen did “not have a no-fault insurer of its own, Enterprise is the other insurer at issue, and Enterprise is self-insured and owns the Transit, it is an insurer of the furnished vehicle.” Remanded.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Litigation (2)

    Full Text Opinion

    This summary also appears under Family Law

    e-Journal #: 77877
    Case: Butters v. Butters
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Published Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Gleicher, Gadola, and Yates
    Issues:

    Child custody; Motion for a change in custody; Objections to a referee’s recommendations; Request for a de novo hearing; MCL 552.507(4)-(6); Conduct of the judicial hearing; MCR 3.215(E)(4) & (F)(2); Alleged violation of court rules on document formatting; MCR 1.109(D)(1), (2), & (6); MCR 8.119(C); Established custodial environment (ECE); Berger v Berger; Child’s best interests; Pierron v Pierron; Parenting-time bond

    Summary:

    The court held that the trial court erred by failing to hold a live hearing at which plaintiff-mother could present evidence, subject to certain restrictions permitted by the court rules. It also held that the evidence adduced at the evidentiary hearing clearly preponderated against the referee’s finding that the children no longer had an ECE with plaintiff. Thus, it vacated the trial court’s order denying her objection and affirming the referee’s recommended order granting defendant-father’s motion for a change in custody of the parties’ children, and remanded for the trial court to hold a de novo hearing. It also directed the trial court to apply the best-interest factors under the clear and convincing evidence standard and vacated the $15,000 parenting-time bond imposed by the trial court. The referee found the children’s ECE was with the father and that he showed the proposed change was in their best interests. The referee also recommended awarding plaintiff supervised parenting time and requiring her to post the bond. The trial court, after reviewing the record the referee created, but without holding a de novo hearing, denied plaintiff’s objection. After initially denying her objection based on formatting violations, it also denied it and affirmed the referee’s recommended order on the basis that none of her arguments were persuasive and none of the referee’s findings of fact or conclusions of law were incorrect. The court held that the “formatting violations were not a proper basis for denying plaintiff’s objection and request for a de novo hearing.” First, defendant cited “no authority, nor have we found any, that allows a court to deny a motion or objection to a referee’s recommendation and order on the basis of formatting without some kind of notice to the party.” In addition, the court rule upon which the trial court relied “allows the clerk of the court to reject a filing on the basis of formatting errors. That did not occur in this case, and the rule does not give additional authority to the court to reject a party’s objections on the basis of formatting errors after the clerk has accepted the document for filing.” Second, because plaintiff “filed timely objections to the referee’s recommended opinion and order and asked for a judicial hearing, she was entitled to a live hearing at which she could present evidence, subject to the trial court’s reasonable restrictions. The trial court was permitted to render its decision on the basis of the referee’s record, but it was required by statute and court rule to allow the parties to appear and present evidence, subject to certain restrictions.” Finally, the referee’s ECE finding was erroneous and the bond order finding was not properly fleshed out.

    Full Text Opinion

    Full Text Opinion

    This summary also appears under Family Law

    e-Journal #: 77876
    Case: Zalewski v. Zalewski
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Published Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Jansen, O’Brien, and Hood
    Issues:

    Circuit court jurisdiction in actions for divorce & separate maintenance; MCL 552.6(1) & MCL 552.7(1); Intervention & third-party joinder in a divorce case; Estes v Estes; Yedinak v. Yedinak; Killingbeck v Killingbeck; Appellate standing; Federated Ins Co v Oakland Cnty Rd Comm’n; League of Women Voters of MI v Secretary of State; “Aggrieved party”; In re Estate of Trankla; Effect of a failure to take the proper procedural steps for review; Burton-Harris v Wayne Cnty Clerk (Burton-Harris II)

    Summary:

    The court held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying appellant-DHHS’s motion for reconsideration of its order for spousal support directing the transfer of essentially all defendant-husband’s assets and income to plaintiff-wife. Plaintiff filed a complaint for separate maintenance stating she and defendant lived together as husband and wife for years until he suffered a stroke that required his placement in a nursing home. She claimed that if she ever became disabled her income and assets would be insufficient to support herself if his income and assets would be used to pay for his care in the nursing home or long-term care facility. She noted that once on Medicaid, 100% of his care needs would be met by his Medicaid benefits. Plaintiff asked the trial court to order defendant to pay spousal support “in the amount of [the] total marital estate” and assign his social security income to her. The parties stipulated to entry of a support order, which the trial court entered. “Designating itself as an ‘interested party,’ DHHS moved for reconsideration of the support order.” The trial court agreed with plaintiff and defendant “that third-party intervention in domestic-relations matters was only permitted in limited circumstances that did not apply to DHHS,” and denied its motion for reconsideration. On appeal, the court agreed with plaintiff that the only issue properly before it was whether the trial court abused its discretion by denying DHHS’s motion for reconsideration. “Plaintiff and defendant were the only proper parties in this action for separate maintenance. There was no suggestion that DHHS conspired with either party to defraud the other, so DHHS’s involvement in this case does not fall within the narrow fraud exception for third-party joinder. Rather, DHHS moved for reconsideration of the support order on the basis that it improperly placed the financial burden of defendant’s long-term care on DHHS.” As such, the trial court “did not abuse its discretion by denying DHHS’s motion for reconsideration. Like any other person claiming to be adversely affected by the support order, DHHS had to pursue a remedy through means other than involvement in the divorce proceedings.” The court then concluded that even if DHHS had appellate standing, “it did not follow the appropriate procedural requirements to challenge the support order on appeal.” DHHS never moved to intervene in the case, “either before the trial court or on appeal. Thus, like in Burton-Harris, the only issue properly before” the court was the trial court’s denial of its motion for reconsideration.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Negligence & Intentional Tort (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 77875
    Case: Cetera v. Mileto
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Published Opinion )
    Judges: Markey, Boonstra, and Riordan
    Issues:

    Defamation per se in relation to business operations; MCL 600.2911(1) & (2)(a); Henkel v Schaub; Heritage Optical Ctr, Inc v Levine; Croton v Gillis; Exemplary damages; False-light invasion of privacy (FLIOP); Patton v Royal Indus, Inc (CA App)

    Summary:

    The court held that plaintiffs-Ava Cetera, Julian Cetera, and Cetera Photography (collectively “Cetera”) failed to state a claim of defamation per se, exemplary damages, or FLIOP. The case involved defendant-Mileto entering a contract with Certa as her photographer and changing the date. “After some discussion of alternative dates that ultimately were not workable, the parties agreed to terminate their agreement, and Cetera” provided a partial refund to Mileto. Shortly thereafter, Mileto posted a review of Cetera’s services both on Facebook and on a website. Cetera’s attorney requested that Mileto withdraw the “defamatory posts.” Mileto edited the review but otherwise refused to withdraw the posts. Cetera alleged defamation per se, exemplary damages, and FLIOP. The court concluded that there simply was “no basis in statute or binding caselaw to support Cetera’s stance that false and defamatory statements about one’s business constitute defamation per se.” It rejected the “application of Henkel, Heritage Optical, and Croton to override the plain and unambiguous language of MCL 600.2911(1) and (2)(a). Resort to defamation per se is only available when statements impute the commission of a crime or the lack of chastity.” Also, because there was no defamation per se and Cetera did “not argue that it can show actual damages or special harm to its photography business, there can be no exemplary damages.” Finally, Cetera’s case simply did “not fit a cause of action for FLIOP. The circumstances did not involve Cetera’s right to privacy or concern the need to protect Cetera’s privacy.” The court found particularly persuasive an older case from California (Patton) where the plaintiffs pursued, in part, a FLIOP claim. Here, Mileto’s “postings concerned Cetera’s public business operations; there was nothing of a personal and private nature in the postings.” The court failed “to see how complaints regarding the manner in which Cetera conducted its business, even if false and unreasonable, had any relationship to the private lives of Ava or Julian Cetera.” It concluded that this was “not a case implicating the right to privacy. Moreover, we hold as a matter of law that the postings cannot be characterized as being highly objectionable, especially considering that they did not concern anyone’s private life.” Affirmed.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Workers' Compensation (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    This summary also appears under Administrative Law

    e-Journal #: 77872
    Case: Jordan v. Department of Health & Human Servs.
    Court: Michigan Supreme Court ( Opinion )
    Judges: McCormack, Zahra, Viviano, Bernstein, Clement, Cavanagh, and Welch; Concurrence – Viviano; Separate Concurrence – Bernstein; Separate Concurrence – Cavanagh and Welch
    Issues:

    Disability benefits under the Workers’ Disability Compensation Act (WDCA); “Disability”; MCL 418.301(4)(a); Independent medical examination (IME); MCL 418.385; The Michigan Compensation Appellate Commission’s (MCAC) authority to perform its own fact-finding; MCL 418.861a(14); Mudel v Great Atl & Pac Tea Co; Traceability of injuries & treatment; Staggs v Genesee Dist Library

    Summary:

    Holding that the record in this matter was too incomplete to facilitate meaningful appellate review and that the Court of Appeals erred by adjudicating the case as a matter of law rather than remanding for factual development, the court vacated the opinion of the Court of Appeals and remanded to the MCAC for further proceedings. Plaintiff was working for defendant’s predecessor when she was injured at work in 1995. She was prescribed opioid medication and eventually became dependent on it. She began receiving disability benefits in 1996, but defendant discontinued her benefits after a 2015 IME. She applied for reinstatement of her benefits, but the magistrate denied her claim, finding her loss of wage-earning capacity was not related to the original injury, but to her opioid dependency. The MCAC reversed, finding her opioid use was directly traceable to treatment for the injury. The Court of Appeals then reversed the MCAC, finding Staggs was “inapplicable because plaintiff’s ‘use of opioids was part of ongoing treatment over several years and because this case concerns whether’” she was entitled to continue receiving benefits in 2015, the injury-treatment examination “must be viewed under the circumstances that existed in 2015.” But the court found the record “too incomplete to facilitate meaningful” appellate review, noting the MCAC “did not explain what the factual support was for finding that plaintiff was disabled[.]” The MCAC concluded that plaintiff’s opioid use precluded her from the workforce “without explaining whether the experts’ conclusions were equivalent or whether they could be reconciled.” In addition, it “did not support its conclusion that any limitation here ‘result[ed] from a personal injury or work-related disease’” with factual findings, “either those made by the magistrate or pursuant to its own review of the record.” Meanwhile, the magistrate “did not make sufficient findings for either the MCAC or the judiciary to determine whether there was legal error in its determination that plaintiff was no longer entitled to benefits, and the MCAC did not supplement those deficient findings.” Thus, the Court of Appeals “erred by deciding this case as a matter of law” as further administrative proceedings were needed.

    Justice Viviano, concurring, wrote separately to explain his view that on remand the MCAC or the magistrate should consider “whether plaintiff had an affirmative duty to seek reasonable treatment for her opioid addiction and, if so, whether the failure to do so broke the chain of causation such that her ongoing opioid addiction is no longer traceable to her 1995 workplace injury.”

    Justice Bernstein, concurring, agreed fully with the majority, but wrote separately because “neither the language of the relevant statutes nor the language of the applicable administrative rules provides sufficient instruction about how to properly adjudicate this issue.”

    Justice Cavanagh, joined by Justice Welch, also concurring, agreed with the majority that a remand to the MCAC for additional factual findings was necessary for judicial review, but wrote separately “to describe in greater detail why the factual findings of the magistrate and the MCAC were insufficient and to provide guidance as to what factual findings are required on remand.”

    Full Text Opinion

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