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summaries of opinions as they are released from the Michigan Supreme Court, Michigan Court of Appeals (published & unpublished), and selected U.S. Sixth Circuit.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


Cases appear under the following practice areas:

  • Business Law (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    This summary also appears under Healthcare Law

    e-Journal #: 75991
    Case: St. Luke's Hosp. v. ProMedica Health Sys., Inc.
    Court: U.S. Court of Appeals Sixth Circuit ( Published Opinion )
    Judges: Sutton, Cole, and Readler
    Issues:

    Antitrust action involving healthcare providers; Refusal-to-deal claims under § 2 of the Sherman Act; Distinguishing Aspen Skiing Co v Aspen Highlands Skiing Corp; Termination of an agreement to include a hospital as an in-network provider; Prior course of dealings; Valid business reason; Claim under § 1 of the Sherman Act; Preliminary injunction; Likelihood of success & risk of irreparable harm factors

    Summary:

    The court concluded that defendant-ProMedica had a legitimate business reason for ending the parties’ relationship and thus, plaintiff-St. Luke’s Hospital was “unlikely to show that ProMedica unlawfully refused to continue doing business with it.” In addition, St. Luke’s had little likelihood of showing an irreparable injury due to the availability of money damages. Thus, the court vacated the preliminary injunction the district court granted St. Luke’s in this antitrust case between healthcare providers. As part of the unwinding of a blocked merger, they signed an agreement that ProMedica’s insurance subsidiary, Paramount, would “maintain St. Luke’s as a within-network provider.” However, it provided that “Paramount could drop St. Luke’s if ownership of the hospital changed.” When a large healthcare company, McLaren Health, later merged with St. Luke’s, “Paramount ended its relationship with St. Luke’s, removing the hospital from its provider network.” ProMedica also terminated an ongoing relationship it had with a physician group at St. Luke’s. St. Luke’s alleged “that ProMedica’s refusal to do business with it violated the” Sherman Act. The court held that “the district court should not have preliminary enjoined ProMedica’s termination of the contracts” because St. Luke’s had “little chance of success on its antitrust claims and” it failed to show a risk of irreparable harm. As to the former, one “impediment to St. Luke’s refusal-to-deal claim is that the parties’ prior course of dealings demonstrates that ProMedica had a valid business reason for ending the” agreement. The “Change in Control” provision in the parties’ divestiture agreement gave ProMedica the right to terminate its ongoing relationship with St. Luke’s if St. Luke’s merged with another healthcare company. Thus, “ProMedica exercised the contractual right St. Luke’s gave it. St. Luke’s knew from the beginning that its ability to maintain its status as an in-network provider might be affected if it were acquired by another company.” The court further determined that, in “addition to this pre-approved exit ramp, other factors used to assess refusal-to-deal claims favor ProMedica’s right to end Paramount’s relationship with St. Luke’s.” St. Luke’s claim under § 1 of the Sherman Act also failed.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Criminal Law (2)

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 75998
    Case: People v. Penn
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Letica, Servitto, and M.J. Kelly
    Issues:

    Accosting a child for immoral purposes; People v Kowalksi; Great weight of the evidence argument; Credibility challenge; Other acts evidence; MRE 404(b); Whether error was outcome-determinative; Due process; Prosecutorial misconduct; People v Noble

    Summary:

    The court held that defendant’s accosting a child for immoral purposes conviction was not against the great weight of the evidence, and that while a witness’s (AT) testimony was erroneously admitted because it was inadmissible under MRE 404(b), the error was not outcome-determinative. His due process claim also failed. In support of his great weight of the evidence argument, he asserted that the victim’s (ASM) testimony lacked credibility. However, the court defers to the fact-finder’s credibility determinations absent a showing that “‘testimony was so far impeached that it was deprived of all probative value or that the jury could not believe it.’” It found that defendant did not meet this high standard. In addition, it noted that ASM’s friend (EE) “was present and corroborated ASM’s testimony that defendant offered to improve ASM’s grade if she engaged in a single act of fellatio and further improve her grade if she engaged in two acts of fellatio. And, although not matching ASM’s description exactly, EE confirmed that defendant told the girls that he would not have sexual intercourse with them, but would accept fellatio. Simply put, ASM and EE’s testimony was not patently incredible, but was supported by the videotape depicting them arriving at defendant’s classroom, entering with defendant, and leaving shortly thereafter.” He also argued that the verdict was against the great weight of the evidence due to the admission of “highly prejudicial MRE 404(b) evidence.” But the court noted that, even without AT’s other acts “testimony, there was sufficient evidence of defendant’s guilt. Both ASM and EE testified that defendant requested fellatio in exchange for raising ASM’s grade. Both girls reported that defendant was ‘serious’ about his request. Ultimately, it does not matter that the prosecution offered admittedly irrelevant evidence because ASM’s testimony alone, and ASM and EE’s testimony together,” satisfied the elements of the charged crime. As to his due process argument, while “defendant’s trial was not perfect, it was fair.” Affirmed.

    Full Text Opinion

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 76002
    Case: People v. Shananaquet
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Tukel, K.F. Kelly, and Gadola
    Issues:

    Motion to suppress; Qualified immunity for reporting suspected abuse; MCL 722.623-625; Lee v Detroit Med Ctr; Presumption of good faith; Warner v Mitts; Principle that there is no immunity for voluntary & unsolicited self-reports of sexual abuse against a minor; People v Mineau; Whether an indigent defendant is entitled to an expert witness; Moore v Kemp (11th Cir); Judicial recusal; Okrie v Michigan; The nemo judex in causa sua principle; Sentencing; Judicial fact-finding; Notice; People v Darden

    Summary:

    The court held that the trial court correctly denied defendant’s renewed and amended motion to suppress his statements in his letter to authorities reporting the sexual abuse of the victim, and did not abuse its discretion by denying his request for the appointment of an expert. It also held that the trial court did not err by denying his motion to quash the bindover, and that the judge was not required to recuse himself. Finally, it held that the trial court did not engage in judicial fact-finding and that defendant had proper notice of the charges against him. He was convicted of CSC I for sexually abusing the victim, who was under 13 years old. The trial court sentenced him, as a fourth-offense habitual offender, to 300 months to 60 years for each count, to be served concurrently. The court rejected his argument that the trial court erred by denying his amended motion to suppress statements he made in a report in which he blamed his estranged wife for his actions and suggested she was a threat to their son. “Contrary to defendant’s assumption, nothing in the plain language of MCL 722.625 conveys immunity from criminal prosecution for voluntary and unsolicited self-reports of sexual abuse against a minor.” The court also rejected his claim as to the denial of his motion for the appointment of an expert witness in forensic interviewing protocol. Given his “admission of sexual contact with the victim and his intimation that his estranged wife knew about and had encouraged their sexual relationship, defendant has not shown a reasonable probability that an expert in the suggestibility of interviews would” assist the defense. He also failed to show “how denial of his motion for an expert witness resulted in a fundamentally unfair trial.” As to his motion to quash the bindover, and his claim that the judge should have recused himself, under the circumstances, the judge’s review of defendant’s motion “arguably did not trigger the nemo judex maxim because the motion essentially resurrected defendant’s motion for a bill of particulars,” which the judge acknowledged and had already denied. As to sentencing, the trial court “did not render factual findings, but rather, the determination that defendant’s sexual abuse of the victim began after 2006 is consistent with the information and the jury’s verdict.” Finally, the information paired with the preliminary exam was “constitutionally sufficient to put defendant on notice that he was being charged with criminal sexual penetrations that occurred with the victim while” they were living together between 2007 and 2008. Affirmed.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Employment & Labor Law (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 76038
    Case: Smith v. Town & Country Props. II, Inc.
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Published Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Cavanagh, Murray, and Redford
    Issues:

    Wrongful discharge in violation of public policy; The Real Estate Brokers Act; An independent contractor in the real estate profession; MCL 339.2501(h); Whether an independent contractor is prohibited from asserting a wrongful discharge in violation of public policy claim; Landin v Healthsource Saginaw Inc; Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA)

    Summary:

    Concluding that plaintiff’s relationship with defendant-real estate company met MCL 339.2501(h)’s definition of an “independent contractor relationship” where he entered into an Independent Contractor Agreement with defendant as an associate broker, the court held that there was no genuine issue of material fact as to his employment status. It further held that as an independent contractor, he could not assert a claim for wrongful discharge in violation of public policy. Thus, it affirmed summary disposition for defendant. In count I of his complaint, plaintiff asserted a claim of retaliatory discharge in violation of public policy based “on his purported refusal—presumably as an employee—to violate RESPA” by exclusively using a particular title company in real estate transactions as required by defendant, rather than allowing buyers and sellers to select their settlement services provider. Count II asserted “a claim of retaliatory termination of employment contract in violation of public policy premised on his purported refusal—presumably as an independent contractor—to violate RESPA.” As to Count I, “MCL 339.2501(a) plainly distinguishes between an associate broker who provides real estate brokerage services as an ‘employee’ of a real estate broker and an associate broker who provides real estate brokerage services as an ‘independent contractor’ of a real estate broker.” Given that plaintiff was an associate broker who entered into an Independent Contractor Agreement with defendant, his employment status “was definitive—he was an independent contractor and not an employee.” As to Count II, the court declined to extend “the public policy exceptions to the at-will employment doctrine—which have historically only applied to employees—” to independent contractors. It noted that doing so “would clearly be an expansion of the current doctrine,” and that the courts in several other “states have ruled that public policy exceptions to at-will employment doctrines do not protect independent contractors.” Plaintiff failed to refer the court “to any persuasive authority that supports the extension of the public policy exceptions to the at-will employment doctrine outside the context of the employer-employee relationship.”

    Full Text Opinion

  • Family Law (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 76000
    Case: Estate of Zilka v. Zilka
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Riordan, Markey, and Swartzle
    Issues:

    Divorce; Division of marital assets; Sparks v Sparks; MCL 552.19 & 552.401; Attorney fees

    Summary:

    Although the trial court made errors, the court was “not left with a firm conviction that the division of the marital assets was unfair or inequitable under all” the circumstances such that reversal was warranted. Plaintiff, the estate of the now deceased ex-wife (Judy), argued that the property division was not fair and equitable. On cross-appeal, defendant-ex-husband argued that the trial court abused its discretion in dividing the marital estate. The trial court’s division “was essentially fashioned around providing Judy with just enough assets to keep her afloat and in good care until her soon-to-be-expected death, instead of simply dividing the marital estate as if Judy were like any other litigant.” The court concluded that her “terminal illness should not have played such a significant role in the distribution of the parties’ property. The first mistake the trial court made was to factor into the property-division equation the $100,000 life insurance policy. There was no evidence that the policy had a cash value, and the court clearly viewed the award of the policy to Judy as being comparable to a $100,000 distribution to her as far as balancing the equities for purposes of dividing the marital estate. But this was not a distribution to Judy; it was effectively a distribution to her heirs or any named beneficiaries.” Further, the court found that “awarding life estate interests in real and personal property because Judy had a terminal disease was, at a minimum, questionable.” While the court’s ruling was “not to be interpreted as prohibiting an award of a life estate interest, it should be done sparingly in the context of divorce judgments.” Next, there was validity to defendant’s claim of a “double payment” as to the value of the life estate interest. As to attorney fees, the trial court erred in not complying with MCR 3.206(D). But the court held that substantial justice did not demand that it reverse the divorce judgment “despite the various errors and otherwise problematic aspects of the trial court’s findings and rulings.” As to the life insurance policy, reversing that award and remanding the case would result in “a nonsensical exercise and a waste of judicial resources.” The court also saw no point in reversing and undoing the life estate and remainderman interest awards under the circumstances because it was “not necessary to do so for purposes of reaching a fair and equitable resolution.” Affirmed.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Healthcare Law (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    This summary also appears under Business Law

    e-Journal #: 75991
    Case: St. Luke's Hosp. v. ProMedica Health Sys., Inc.
    Court: U.S. Court of Appeals Sixth Circuit ( Published Opinion )
    Judges: Sutton, Cole, and Readler
    Issues:

    Antitrust action involving healthcare providers; Refusal-to-deal claims under § 2 of the Sherman Act; Distinguishing Aspen Skiing Co v Aspen Highlands Skiing Corp; Termination of an agreement to include a hospital as an in-network provider; Prior course of dealings; Valid business reason; Claim under § 1 of the Sherman Act; Preliminary injunction; Likelihood of success & risk of irreparable harm factors

    Summary:

    The court concluded that defendant-ProMedica had a legitimate business reason for ending the parties’ relationship and thus, plaintiff-St. Luke’s Hospital was “unlikely to show that ProMedica unlawfully refused to continue doing business with it.” In addition, St. Luke’s had little likelihood of showing an irreparable injury due to the availability of money damages. Thus, the court vacated the preliminary injunction the district court granted St. Luke’s in this antitrust case between healthcare providers. As part of the unwinding of a blocked merger, they signed an agreement that ProMedica’s insurance subsidiary, Paramount, would “maintain St. Luke’s as a within-network provider.” However, it provided that “Paramount could drop St. Luke’s if ownership of the hospital changed.” When a large healthcare company, McLaren Health, later merged with St. Luke’s, “Paramount ended its relationship with St. Luke’s, removing the hospital from its provider network.” ProMedica also terminated an ongoing relationship it had with a physician group at St. Luke’s. St. Luke’s alleged “that ProMedica’s refusal to do business with it violated the” Sherman Act. The court held that “the district court should not have preliminary enjoined ProMedica’s termination of the contracts” because St. Luke’s had “little chance of success on its antitrust claims and” it failed to show a risk of irreparable harm. As to the former, one “impediment to St. Luke’s refusal-to-deal claim is that the parties’ prior course of dealings demonstrates that ProMedica had a valid business reason for ending the” agreement. The “Change in Control” provision in the parties’ divestiture agreement gave ProMedica the right to terminate its ongoing relationship with St. Luke’s if St. Luke’s merged with another healthcare company. Thus, “ProMedica exercised the contractual right St. Luke’s gave it. St. Luke’s knew from the beginning that its ability to maintain its status as an in-network provider might be affected if it were acquired by another company.” The court further determined that, in “addition to this pre-approved exit ramp, other factors used to assess refusal-to-deal claims favor ProMedica’s right to end Paramount’s relationship with St. Luke’s.” St. Luke’s claim under § 1 of the Sherman Act also failed.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Litigation (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    This summary also appears under Malpractice

    e-Journal #: 76023
    Case: Estate of Wagar v. Clark
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam - Sawyer, Boonstra, and Rick
    Issues:

    Medical malpractice; Cox v Hartman; Expert testimony; Elher v Misra; Proximate cause; MCL 600.2912a(2); O’Neal v St John Hosp & Med Ctr; Distinguishing Martin v Ledingham & Ykimoff v Foote Mem’l Hosp; Effect of speculation; Craig v Oakwood Hosp; Whether a Daubert hearing was necessary; Personal representative (PR)

    Summary:

    The court held that the trial court did not err by granting defendants-Dr. Clark and his practice summary disposition of plaintiff-PR’s medical malpractice action. Plaintiff sued defendants, asserting one count of medical malpractice against Dr. Clark and one count of vicarious liability against his practice, alleging plaintiff’s decedent (W) would not have suffered a stroke had Dr. Clark fulfilled his duties under the standard of care. The trial court granted defendants’ motion for summary disposition. On appeal, the court rejected plaintiff's  argument that the trial court erred by granting summary disposition for defendants because his expert’s (F) deposition testimony created a genuine issue of material fact regarding causation. It noted that the “speculative nature of plaintiff’s causation evidence was not sufficient to create a genuine issue of material fact.” In addition, although defendants argued in their motion for summary disposition that there was “insufficient evidence that a carotid artery blockage had caused the stroke, the trial court granted summary disposition on the basis of the fact” that the vascular surgeon had not ordered immediate surgery after evaluating W. As such, any error in the trial court’s reference to F’s testimony was harmless and did not warrant reversal. Finally, the court found that a Daubert hearing was unnecessary. Affirmed. 

    Full Text Opinion

  • Malpractice (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    This summary also appears under Litigation

    e-Journal #: 76023
    Case: Estate of Wagar v. Clark
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam - Sawyer, Boonstra, and Rick
    Issues:

    Medical malpractice; Cox v Hartman; Expert testimony; Elher v Misra; Proximate cause; MCL 600.2912a(2); O’Neal v St John Hosp & Med Ctr; Distinguishing Martin v Ledingham & Ykimoff v Foote Mem’l Hosp; Effect of speculation; Craig v Oakwood Hosp; Whether a Daubert hearing was necessary; Personal representative (PR)

    Summary:

    The court held that the trial court did not err by granting defendants-Dr. Clark and his practice summary disposition of plaintiff-PR’s medical malpractice action. Plaintiff sued defendants, asserting one count of medical malpractice against Dr. Clark and one count of vicarious liability against his practice, alleging plaintiff’s decedent (W) would not have suffered a stroke had Dr. Clark fulfilled his duties under the standard of care. The trial court granted defendants’ motion for summary disposition. On appeal, the court rejected plaintiff's  argument that the trial court erred by granting summary disposition for defendants because his expert’s (F) deposition testimony created a genuine issue of material fact regarding causation. It noted that the “speculative nature of plaintiff’s causation evidence was not sufficient to create a genuine issue of material fact.” In addition, although defendants argued in their motion for summary disposition that there was “insufficient evidence that a carotid artery blockage had caused the stroke, the trial court granted summary disposition on the basis of the fact” that the vascular surgeon had not ordered immediate surgery after evaluating W. As such, any error in the trial court’s reference to F’s testimony was harmless and did not warrant reversal. Finally, the court found that a Daubert hearing was unnecessary. Affirmed. 

    Full Text Opinion

  • Real Property (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 76021
    Case: Heator v. Bowers
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Sawyer, Boonstra, and Rick
    Issues:

    Easement; Whether the trial court extended an easement beyond its legal description; Abandonment of the easement; Compatibility of plaintiffs’ proposed use; Claim that the dock proposed by plaintiffs would violate state law & a local ordinance; Ripeness

    Summary:

    The court held that based on the plain language of a 1989 agreement, the trial court correctly concluded that “the parties’ predecessors amended the easement to extend it to the water’s edge to allow” construction of a boat dock. Also, the trial court did not err when it held that plaintiffs did not abandon their rights under the easement. Any argument based on a prescriptive easement failed. Further, plaintiffs were permitted to construct a dock, despite the existence of the boat ramp. Finally, the issue that the dock would violate state law and a local ordinance was not ripe. The case arose from a dispute between neighboring property owners over the scope and application of an easement. Defendants contended that under the express language of the easement, it did not extend to the edge of Silver Lake. Thus, they argued that “plaintiffs did not have the right to construct a dock on Silver Lake and the trial court erred when it concluded otherwise.” Defendants posited, and plaintiffs did “not appear to contest, that the legal description of the easement does not extend to the water’s edge.” As a result, defendants argued that the trial court could not have held that “the easement permitted construction of a boat dock.” But this argument ignored “the plain language of the 1989 agreement.” The court concluded that “the language of the 1965 easement, when coupled with the 1989 agreement, unambiguously provided for the construction of a boat dock at the end of the easement and edge of Silver Lake. Under the 1989 agreement, the parties’ predecessors agreed that the ‘owners of property abutting the Easement may build a boat dock on Silver Lake at the end of the Easement at Silver Lake for the purpose of mooring boats owned by them but not others.’” Defendants offered no explanation regarding “how to harmonize this provision of the 1989 agreement with their argument that the easement did not extend to the water’s edge. Indeed, defendants’ failure to harmonize the 1989 agreement with the original easement language creates ambiguity where none previously existed.” Affirmed.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Tax (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 76037
    Case: Charter Twp. of Pittsfield v. Washtenaw Cnty. Treasurer
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Published Opinion )
    Judges: Servitto, Borrello, and Stephens
    Issues:

    Whether administrative fees may be included in the chargeback to a township as part of the county treasurer's right to recover the amount of the delinquent taxes & interest from the township under MCL 211.87b; Delinquent tax revolving fund; Rafaeli, LLC v Oakland Cnty; “Taxes”; Applicability of the definition in MCL 211.78a(1); “Delinquent taxes”; MCL 211.78a(3); MCL 211.44(6); MCL 211.59(6); Conversion; Motion to amend

    Summary:

    The court held that defendant-county treasurer could properly include its administration fees in its chargeback to plaintiff-township under MCL 211.87b(1). Also, defendant could not have converted any monies in the delinquent tax revolving fund where “the administrative fees assessed and collected by defendant belong to defendant as a charge against properties with delinquent taxes.” Finally, the trial court properly denied plaintiff’s motions to amend. Plaintiff contended that “when the county treasurer sells properties delinquent in their taxes at a foreclosure sale for less than the delinquent taxes owed, it may not include administrative fees incurred by it in its efforts to collect delinquent taxes from the property owners as ‘taxes’ chargeable back to the taxing entities under MCL 211.78a(1).” The court found that “even though plaintiff was not advanced monies to cover the county administration fees, this does not mean that the county must ‘eat’ the costs it incurred in pursuing the payment of delinquent taxes on properties located within in plaintiff’s boundaries.” It noted that “MCL 211.78m(8) requires that the foreclosing governmental unit shall ‘deposit the proceeds from the sale of property under this section into a restricted account’” for the delinquent tax property sales proceeds for a given year. “MCL 211.78m(8) then requires that the foreclosing governmental unit use those proceeds to first reimburse the delinquent tax revolving fund created under MCL 211.87b of MCL 211.87f ‘for all taxes, interest, penalties and fees’ MCL 211.78m(8)(a)-(d).” Thus, the court determined that “any taxes, interest, penalties, and fees on foreclosed upon properties paid out of the revolving tax fund must be reimbursed from the foreclose sale proceeds. There is no language limiting the taxes, interest, penalties and fees to only those due and owing before the property taxes became delinquent and were turned over to the county for collection efforts. Simply, if money was taken out of the revolving fund in connection with a later-foreclosed upon property, all of those monies must be repaid back into the revolving fund first and foremost upon foreclosure. As a result, defendant could properly include its administration fees in its chargeback to plaintiff.” The court affirmed summary disposition for defendant.

    Full Text Opinion

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