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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summaries of opinions as they are released from the Michigan Supreme Court, Michigan Court of Appeals (published & unpublished), and selected U.S. Sixth Circuit.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 five Michigan Court of Appeals published opinions under Administrative Law, Attorneys, Constitutional Law, and Criminal Law.


Cases appear under the following practice areas:

  • Administrative Law (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 73660
    Case: Shahid v. Department of Health & Human Servs.
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Published Opinion )
    Judges: Ronayne Krause, Sawyer, and Boonstra
    Issues:

    Disqualification from Michigan’s Food Assistance Program (FAP) funded under the federal Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (7 USC § 2011 et seq.); Clear & convincing evidence required to establish an Intentional Program Violation (IPV); 7 CFR § 273(e)(6); In re Martin; Substantial evidence; VanZandt v. State Employees Ret. Sys.; United States Department of Agriculture—Food & Nutrition Service (USDA)

    Summary:

    Holding that there was insufficient factual support for the ALJ’s decision finding that appellant committed an IPV and was disqualified from Michigan’s FAP for 12 months, the court reversed the circuit court’s order affirming that decision. After an investigation, the USDA determined that a store committed benefits “trafficking” (the use of “FAP benefits to receive cash, non-food items, or ineligible food items”) and permanently disqualified it from program participation. The USDA gave appellee-DHHS its investigative reports, which led to the DHHS concluding appellant had committed an IPV of the FAP’s regulations. At the ALJ hearing, he “testified that he bought ‘only food’” at the store. The court noted that there was no dispute he made the documented transactions, or “as to the nature, design, or operations of” the store, or that the USDA found the store “violated the SNAP program, or that the USDA has certain criteria it deems indicative of benefits ‘trafficking.’ However, there is no evidence whatsoever that any of appellant’s transactions were actually in violation of any SNAP or FAP rules. The only ostensible evidence is by way of inference based on the USDA’s criteria; yet, there is no evidence whatsoever explaining why those criteria are indicative of IPVs. The record shows that DHHS had ample opportunity to provide an explanation and simply failed to do so.” The court further noted that the ALJ did not make any credibility assessments – she “accepted DHHS’s unexplained conclusion essentially verbatim, but without evidence as to its basis or the specifics of appellant’s transactions, e.g., what he received in exchange for FAP benefits, or what his intent was. Although a pattern of transactions deemed to be suspicious may provide a proper basis for investigation,” the court concluded that by itself it “is insufficient to constitute substantial (much less clear and convincing) evidence that appellant actually committed an IPV.” The court emphasized it was not ruling that he did not commit an IPV, and expressly held that the DHHS was not barred from bringing a new IPV claim against him, if it “has some genuine evidence that any specific transaction was actually fraudulent.”

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  • Attorneys (1)

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    e-Journal #: 73659
    Case: Indiana MI Power Co. v. Community Mills, Inc.
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Published Opinion )
    Judges: Shapiro, Servitto, and Letica
    Issues:

    Attorney fees & expenses under the Uniform Condemnation Procedures Act (UCPA) (MCL 213.51a et seq.); Whether MCL 213.66(2) limits attorney fees to the work that proved successful; Detroit Int’l Bridge Co. v. Commodities Exp. Co.; Escanaba & Lake Superior R.R. Co. v. Keweenaw Land Ass’n, Ltd.; In re Hahn Drainage Ditch (Unpub.); Michigan Dep’t of Transp. v. Randolph; Indiana MI Power Co. (IMPC)

    Summary:

    Holding that the trial court erred by limiting the award of attorney fees and expenses under the UCPA to the issues of nonjoinder and subject-matter jurisdiction, the court reversed the order awarding defendant-Community Mills $34,600.40. It remanded for determination of “the full amount of fees and expenses incurred by Community Mills while defending against the improper acquisition, as well as the costs incurred while pursuing its lawful recovery of attorney fees and expenses under MCL 213.66(2).” It also may pursue additional fees and costs incurred as a result of the appeal. “The trial court has discretion to determine whether the actual attorney fees” it incurred were reasonable. Plaintiff-IMPC sought to condemn real property owned by Community Mills to rebuild and upgrade an existing transmission line. Community Mills argued that the trial court improperly reduced its requested reimbursement award of $71,409.14 for attorney fees and expenses incurred in defending against IMPC’s action. The court held that Escanaba “confirms what the statutory language makes clear—MCL 213.66(2) does not limit the recovery of fees and expenses to those directly related to the defect that made the acquisition improper. In order to place the property owner in as good a position as before the attempted taking, all reasonable fees incurred in defending against the improper acquisition must be reimbursed.” It also agreed with Hahn “that the trial court’s approach was reasonable under the facts of that case. Because the property owner had obtained recovery of attorney fees in the second action, it was appropriate . . . to limit recovery of fees in the first action to legal services relating to the procedural defect. The trial court’s ruling correctly prevented the property owner from obtaining a double recovery of attorney fees.” Here, however, when the trial court “decided the amount of reimbursement in the first action, the second action was still pending.” The court noted that given “that a double recovery of fees and costs is not permitted,” IMPC’s concerns about following MCL 213.66(2)’s unambiguous language were unfounded. Further, “the recovery of attorney fees under MCL 213.66(2) is subject to the requirement that the fees be reasonable.” But the court reiterated that the statute “does not limit attorney fees to the work that proved successful. Nor is recovery precluded for legal services that, in hindsight, were ultimately unnecessary if those services were reasonable at the time they were rendered.”

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  • Constitutional Law (1)

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    e-Journal #: 73726
    Case: House of Representatives v. Governor
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Published Opinion )
    Judges: Markey and K.F. Kelly; Concurring in part, Dissenting in part – Tukel
    Issues:

    The Emergency Powers of the Governor Act (EPGA) (MCL 10.31 et seq.); MCL 10.32 & 10.33; Exclusive emergency powers granted to the governor; Walsh v. City of River Rouge; The Emergency Management Act (EMA) (MCL 30.401 et seq.); MCL 30.403; MCL 30.417(d); The Separation of Powers Clause; Const. 1963, art. 3, § 2; The nondelegation doctrine; Taylor v. SmithKline Beecham Corp.; Makowski v. Governor; Blue Cross & Blue Shield of MI v. Milliken; The “standards test”; Westervelt v. Natural Res. Comm’n; Department of Natural Res. v. Seaman; Presumption a statute is constitutional; In re Request for Advisory Opinion Regarding Constitutionality of 2011 PA 38; Moot issues; City of Jackson v. Thompson-McCully Co., LLC; Motion to intervene; MCR 2.209(B)(2); Failure to dispute the basis of a lower court’s ruling; Denhof v. Challa

    Summary:

    The court held that Governor Whitmer’s declaration of a state of emergency, extension of it, and issuance of related executive orders fell within the scope of gubernatorial authority under the EPGA, and that the EPGA does not violate the Separation of Powers Clause. It also found no basis to reverse the Court of Claims’ denial of the cross-appellants’ motion to intervene. Thus, it affirmed the Court of Claims as to the issues necessary to resolve the appeal. The court concluded that under the plain and unambiguous language of the EPGA, “a governor has the authority to declare a statewide emergency and to promulgate reasonable orders, rules, and regulations during the pendency of the statewide emergency as deemed necessary by the governor, and which the governor can amend, modify, or rescind. Additionally, a declared statewide emergency only ends upon the governor’s declaration that the emergency no longer exists.” The court noted that “MCL 10.31 does not provide any active role for the Legislature during a public emergency, let alone the power to directly act as a check against a governor’s exercise of authority.” While the Legislature asserted that only the 1976 EMA applies to statewide emergencies, § 17 of the EMA “provides that the EMA ‘shall not be construed to . . . [l]imit, modify, or abridge the authority of the governor to proclaim a state of emergency pursuant to Act No. 302 of the Public Acts of 1945, being’” MCL 10.31 to 10.33. As to the separation of powers, the Michigan Supreme Court has recognized that the Separation of Powers Clause and the nondelegation doctrine do not prohibit the Legislature from obtaining the coordinate branches’ assistance. Applying the “standards test,” the court held that the “EPGA contains standards that are as reasonably precise as the subject matter—public emergencies—requires or permits, such that the Legislature, by enacting the EPGA, safely availed itself of the resources and expertise of the executive branch to assist in the execution of legislative policy.” Thus, there was no separation of powers violation. Under the EPGA’s standards, the governor’s orders must be “reasonable” and necessary to protect life or property, or to gain control of the emergency. “There was no excessive or improper delegation of power to the governor with the enactment of the EPGA.” Whether the Governor exceeded her powers under the EMA was moot.

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  • Criminal Law (6)

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    e-Journal #: 73658
    Case: People v. Baskerville
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Published Opinion )
    Judges: Ronayne Krause, Murray, and Tukel
    Issues:

    Sufficiency of the evidence; Second-degree murder; People v. Smith; “Malice”; People v. Werner; People v. Hansen; People v. Mesik (On Reconsideration); Human trafficking of a minor involving commercial sexual activity; MCL 750.462e(a); M Crim JI 36.4a; Photographic evidence; Relevance; MRE 401 & 402; People v. Cameron; Unfair prejudice; MRE 403; People v. Mills; People v. Fisher; Consecutive sentencing under the human trafficking statute; MCL 750.462f(5); People v. Ryan; Scoring of OV 5; People v. Calloway; MCL 777.35(1)(a); Scoring of OV 9; MCL 777.39(1)(c); “Victim”; People v. Gullett; People v. Gratsch; People v. Sargent; Proximity; Scoring of OV 10; MCL 777.40(1)(a); “Predatory conduct”; MCL 777.40(3)(a); People v. Huston; People v. Cannon; Scoring of OV 11; MCL 777.41(1)(a), (2)(a), & (2)(c); People v. Johnson; Scoring of OV 14; MCL 777.44(1)(a) & (2)(a); People v. Rhodes (On Remand); People v. Dickinson; Scoring of OV 19; MCL 777.49(c); People v. Hershey; People v. Smith; People v. Sours; Resentencing; People v. Francisco

    Summary:

    The court held that there was sufficient evidence to support defendant’s second-degree murder and human trafficking of a minor involving commercial sexual activity convictions, that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by admitting color photos of the victim’s (C) decomposed body, and that there were no errors requiring resentencing. He was convicted of multiple offenses for shooting C during a pay-for-sex date he arranged with a minor (AB). The court found that the evidence showed he intentionally killed C “and no mitigating circumstances, such as self-defense or an accident, were present to negate the clear presence of malice.” Further, the evidence showed he manipulated AB “into engaging in pay-for-sex activities when she was a minor; that she informed [him] that she wanted to stop this activity, but [he] would not let her stop, including through the use of physical violence; that [he] set up and controlled almost every aspect of the pay-for-sex enterprise; and that she turned all the money for her pay-for-sex encounters over to” him. As to the admission of color photos of C’s decomposed body, “the trial court endeavored to judiciously balance the probative value of the evidence against its prejudicial effect, and its decision to admit the photo[s], which were relevant to material issues at trial, was within the range of reasonable and principled outcomes.” The trial court also did not err by ordering that his sentence for human trafficking enterprise involving death be served consecutive to his other sentences. It “considered the offenses and the offender and decided that consecutive sentences were appropriate under the circumstances.” Finally, although some of defendant’s OVs were erroneously scored, resentencing was not required. The court upheld that 15-point score for OV 5, the 50-point score for OV 11, and the 10-point scores for OV 14 and 19. As to OV 9, the evidence did not support a finding that his conduct placed a child in danger of physical injury or death. As to OV 10, it held that the evidence did not support that he “engaged in preoffense conduct directed at [C] with the intent to victimize him by shooting him.” But the court concluded that “[b]ecause the scoring errors do not affect the appropriate guidelines range for either offense,” he was not entitled to resentencing. Affirmed, but remanded for the ministerial task of correcting defendant’s guidelines score.

    Full Text Opinion

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    e-Journal #: 73661
    Case: People v. Stokes
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Published Opinion )
    Judges: Redford, Meter, and O’Brien
    Issues:

    Whether defendant was entitled to resentencing; Consideration of acquitted conduct in sentencing; Distinguishing People v. Beck & People v. Roberts (On Remand); United States v. Crosby (2d Cir.)

    Summary:

    Holding that the trial court did not rely on acquitted conduct in sentencing defendant, the court affirmed his sentences in these consolidated cases. He was convicted of carjacking and armed robbery in two separate cases. In the first case, the trial court sentenced him as a second-offense habitual offender to concurrent terms of 18 to 30 years for each conviction. In the second case, the trial court sentenced him as a second-offense habitual offender to concurrent terms of 20 to 30 years for each conviction. He appealed both, and each time the court remanded for a Crosby hearing. The trial court held a combined resentencing hearing where it resentenced him to the same sentences it originally imposed. On appeal, the court rejected his argument that he was entitled to resentencing as the trial court violated his right to due process by considering acquitted conduct in determining his sentences. In so doing, it distinguished Beck and Roberts, noting that neither case “addressed whether the mere inclusion of a reference to a jury’s acquittal of charged offenses in a different, separate case in the defendant’s criminal history reported in a PSIR violates the principle articulated in Beck.” Here, the trial court “did not reference any acquitted conduct during the resentencing hearing or even intimate that such conduct influenced its sentencing decisions.” The court held that “a sentencing court may review a PSIR containing information on acquitted conduct without violating Beck so long as the court does not rely on the acquitted conduct when sentencing the defendant.” It then concluded that because no evidence in these cases established that “the sentencing court relied on acquitted conduct referenced in the PSIRs when sentencing defendant,” he failed to establish his claims of error.

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    e-Journal #: 73598
    Case: People v. Craig
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Ronayne Krause, K.F. Kelly, and Tukel
    Issues:

    Challenges to the admission of DataMaster breathalyzer test results; Failure to conduct a hearing under Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharms., Inc. as to the reliability of the device; People v. Fosnaugh; Burden of proof as to its reliability; MCL 257.625a(6)(a); People v. Campbell; Compliance with the administrative regulations; MI Admin. Code, R 325.2655(1)(e); People v. Wujkowski; Admission of horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) evidence; People v. Berger; Harmless error; People v. Hawthorne; People v. Lukity; Admission of non-standardized field sobriety tests; MCL 257.625s; MRE 702 & 703; People v. Kowalski; Absence of testimony that administrative regulations relating to the calibration of the breathalyzer device were complied with; Waiver; People v. Fonville; Operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated (OWI)

    Summary:

    The court held that the trial court did not err in refusing to order a Daubert hearing as to the reliability of the DataMaster breathalyzer device as MCL 257.625a(6)(a) shows the Legislature has determined that the device’s results are valid and reliable. It rejected defendant’s claim that the trial court erred in ruling his test complied with the applicable administrative rules. As to the admission of the HGN test results, and the trial court’s failure to determine whether the non-standardized field sobriety tests were reliable, the court found any error harmless. Finally, the prosecution did not have to show calibration tests were performed on the device used here and that it was reliable. Thus, the court affirmed defendant’s challenged OWI, third offense conviction. It concluded that MCL 257.625a(6)(a) made the evidence of his DataMaster breathalyzer test results admissible against him, in light of “the obvious relevance of defendant’s blood alcohol level. The enactment of MCL 257.625a(6)(a) demonstrates an implicit acknowledgment by the Michigan Legislature that breathalyzer test results are highly probative.” While he asserted that the prosecution had to prove that the specific “device used to test his blood alcohol content was reliable and that the trial court erred by” requiring him to prove that it “was unreliable, the language of MCL 257.625a(6)(a) includes no such requirement.” Thus, the prosecution did not have to produce specific evidence as to the reliability of this testing device. As to compliance with the administrative rules, as the trial court recognized, they “do not say anything about belching or wiping one’s mouth during the observation period.” The booking area surveillance video and the arresting officer’s (S) testimony showed that “the administrative regulations were complied with[.]” The trial court erred in admitting the HGN test results into evidence as S acknowledged that he may not have properly performed the test and thus, the Berger requirements were not met. But the error “was harmless because there was substantial evidence of defendant’s intoxication while operating his vehicle.”

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    e-Journal #: 73604
    Case: People v. Harris
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Murray, Cavanagh, and Swartzle
    Issues:

    First-degree premeditated murder; MCL 750.316(1)(a); Premeditation; People v. Oros; Admission of rap music lyrics allegedly written by a defendant; Authentication; MRE 901(a) & (b)(1); Relevance; MRE 401 & 402; Unfair prejudice; MRE 403; People v. Blackston; Balancing; People v. Sharpe; Harmless error; MCL 769.26; People v. Thorpe; Constitutional right to a speedy trial; Barker v. Wingo; People v. Williams; Conviction as an aider & abettor; MCL 767.39; People v. Robinson; Waiver; People v. Carines; Sentencing; Mandatory sentence of life without parole; MCL 750.316(1); Applicability of Miller v. Alabama to a defendant who was 18 years old at the time of the crime; Roper v. Simmons; People v. Hall; Cruel &/or unusual punishment; People v. Hallak; Restitution; MCL 780.766 & 780.767; People v. Byard

    Summary:

    The court held that there was sufficient evidence of premeditation and deliberation to support defendant-Harris’s first-degree murder conviction. Further, while some rap lyrics he had allegedly written should have been excluded as irrelevant and unfairly prejudicial, he failed to show that a miscarriage of justice occurred. As to defendant-Parks, (1) his right to a speedy trial was not violated, (2) there was sufficient evidence to support his first-degree murder conviction as an aider and abettor, and (3) his claim that his life without parole sentence was unconstitutional failed under Hall. But the court remanded as to his order of restitution. They were jointly tried before separate juries for the victim’s fatal shooting. Harris argued that there was insufficient evidence of premeditation to support his conviction under MCL 750.313(1)(a). But the court held that a rational jury could find that he “obtained ammunition on the day of the shooting, sought out the victim” in retaliation for a prior murder, discussed the victim’s murder with Parks, “and obtained Parks’s gun for this purpose. Harris donned a mask, checked inside the store briefly, and went back to the parking lot, at which point he discharged his gun at the victim. Given that a ‘second look’ can require mere seconds of premeditation and deliberation, a rational jury could also have found that Harris and Parks did not know that the victim would be at the store but that, upon seeing him in the red truck, they decided to murder him at that time. Either conclusion would have supported a finding of premeditation and deliberation.” As to the lyrics, some were irrelevant and unfairly prejudicial while others were not. But given the strength of the prosecution’s case, Harris did not show that it was “more probable than not” that there was a miscarriage of justice. The court rejected Parks’s right to a speedy trial claim given that only one of the four Barker factors weighed in his favor. As to his sufficiency of the evidence claim, “a rational jury could find that Parks and Harris planned the murder of the victim in retaliation for the murder of Harris’s cousin and that Parks gave the gun to Harris for this express purpose.” Affirmed but remanded for a determination of the value of the victim’s truck in relation to Parks’s restitution order.

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    e-Journal #: 73602
    Case: People v. Robinson
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Markey, K.F. Kelly, and Tukel
    Issues:

    Waiver of the right to counsel; People v. Williams; Faretta v. California; People v. Anderson; People v. Russell; People v. Adkins (After Remand); MCR 6.005(D)(1); Plain error review; People v. Cain; Judicial impartiality; People v. McDonald; People v. Jackson; People v. Stevens; Jury instructions; M Crim JI 2.20; Ineffective assistance of counsel; Failure to object to the trial court’s commentary & its conduct that allegedly pierced the veil of judicial impartiality; People v. Schrauben; People v. Vaughn; Trial strategy; People v. Trakhtenberg; People v. Dunigan; Failure to raise a futile objection; People v. Ericksen; Factual predicate; People v. Hoag; Sentencing; Proportionality & reasonableness; People v. Lockridge; People v. Steanhouse; People v. Dixon-Bey; The two-thirds rule; People v. Tanner; Carrying a concealed weapon (CCW)

    Summary:

    The court held that defendant was not entitled to a new trial because the trial court did not fail to obtain a valid waiver of his right to counsel. Also, as to his claims challenging the trial court’s impartiality, the court concluded that he was not deprived of a fair trial or denied the effective assistance of counsel. Finally, the court found no abuse of discretion in his sentencing. Defendant was convicted of CCW and sentenced to three to five years. The court held that he failed to show plain error affecting substantial rights arising from his unpreserved issue as to waiver of his right to counsel. He “adamantly sought to represent himself in the trial court and attempted to prevent advisory counsel from assisting him. The trial court substantially complied with the Anderson requirements as well as MCR 6.005 and obtained a knowing, voluntary, and understanding waiver.” He next claimed that “the trial judge pierced the veil of judicial impartiality by misrepresenting to the jury that defendant believed that the ‘process was treasonous’ when defendant accused the trial court of being a ‘terrorist treasonous person.’” Further, he contended “that the trial court’s commentary constituted improper testimony.” Although the court questioned “the necessity and extent of the explanation offered by the trial court to the jury, under the totality of the circumstances,” it did not determine that he was deprived of a fair trial. It appeared that “the trial court did not deliberately misrepresent defendant’s view of the extent of the treason and its application, but rather, attempted to explain defendant’s position in view of its expressions in documentation filed with the court and at multiple court hearings.” Affirmed.

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    e-Journal #: 73655
    Case: Chase v. MaCauley
    Court: U.S. Court of Appeals Sixth Circuit ( Published Opinion )
    Judges: Cole and Stranch; Dissent – Batchelder
    Issues:

    Habeas corpus; Michigan’s sentencing scheme; Alleyne v. United States; People v. Herron (MI App.); People v. Lockridge (MI & MI App.); Motion for relief from judgment; MCR 6.508(D)(3); Robinson v. Woods; Whether petitioner’s Alleyne claim was procedurally defaulted based on appellate counsel’s failure to raise Alleyne on direct appeal; Wilson v. Sellers; Amos v. Renico; Ineffective assistance of counsel excusing a procedural default; McFarland v. Yukins; Martinez v. Ryan; Evitts v. Lucey; Strickland v. Washington; Mapes v. Coyle; Failure to make an argument that would have been overruled under then-existing law; Lucas v. O’Dea; Shaw v. Wilson (7th Cir.); Lobbins v. United States; Prejudice; Evans v. Hudson; Mayo v. Henderson (2d Cir.); Joseph v. Coyle; The merits of the Alleyne claim; Barton v. Warden, S. OH Corr. Facility

    Summary:

    [This appeal was from the ED-MI.] The court held that petitioner-Chase’s appellate attorney was constitutionally deficient in failing to raise an Alleyne claim on direct appeal, even though Michigan had yet to change its sentencing scheme to conform to Alleyne’s requirements, thus excusing the procedural default on which the district court relied to deny Chase’s habeas petition. He was convicted in state court of kidnapping, sexual assault, unlawful imprisonment, and felonious assault. He was sentenced under the old Michigan sentencing guidelines scheme that allowed judge-found facts to raise his mandatory minimum sentence, violating his Sixth Amendment rights under Alleyne, which was issued three days after he was sentenced. He argued that his counsel’s failure to raise the Alleyne issue on direct appeal constituted ineffective assistance of appellate counsel, excusing the procedural default. The district court denied his habeas petition, concluding that the merits of his Alleyne claim would not have been “obvious” at the time the appellate brief was prepared. The issues before the court were whether Chase’s appellate counsel was ineffective by failing to raise an Alleyne claim on direct appeal, and whether Chase could show cause and prejudice to excuse the procedural default. It held that his appellate attorney should have known that even though Herron was binding precedent in Michigan at the time of the appeal, the sentencing scheme was unconstitutional and should have argued the issue on direct appeal. Additionally, Herron was already being challenged at the time of the appeal. The court held that “the change in Michigan law was ‘clearly foreshadowed,’ and Chase’s appellate attorney’s failure to raise this claim was constitutionally deficient.” The court also held that Chase established prejudice where there was “more than a reasonable probability that, had Chase’s appellate counsel raised an Alleyne claim, he would have received a new sentencing proceeding.” His claim was found meritorious where it was undisputed that “‘the sentencing court used judge-found facts in this case to calculate Chase’s guidelines minimum sentence range[.]’” The court reversed the district court, conditionally granted a writ of habeas corpus, and remanded with instructions to remand to state court for sentencing proceedings consistent with the court’s opinion and the U.S. Constitution.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Healthcare Law (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    This summary also appears under Malpractice

    e-Journal #: 73605
    Case: Estate of Jason A. Blackwell v. St. Mary's of MI
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Fort Hood and Tukel; Concurring in part, Dissenting in part - Jansen
    Issues:

    Medical malpractice; Elher v. Misra; Qualification of an expert to testify as to the standard of care (SOC) under MCL 600.2169; Turbin v. Graesser; Qualification of hospital-administration experts; MRE 702; MCL 600.2955; MCL 600.2912a; “The practice of medicine”; Cox v. Flint Bd. of Hosp. Managers; Nursing malpractice; Craig v. Oakwood Hosp.; Waiver; Braverman v. Granger; Intensive Care Unit (ICU)

    Summary:

    The court reversed summary disposition for defendant-hospital as to plaintiff’s nursing-malpractice claims; affirmed the supplemental opinion and order concluding that her anesthesiology expert (Dr. D) was not qualified to testify in support of plaintiff’s hospital-administration claims; and affirmed the trial court to the extent it dismissed her hospital-administration claims on the basis of its determination that her expert witness-H’s testimony was not reliable. But it reversed to the extent the trial court dismissed plaintiff’s entire case, including her nursing-malpractice claims, and remanded. The case arose from the death of plaintiff’s 30-year-old decedent in the ICU of defendant “after his tracheostomy tube became dislodged and several members of” the staff were unable to secure an airway. The court first held that H, plaintiff’s hospital-administration expert, “was not qualified to testify as an expert witness in this case, because in his deposition taken during discovery, [he] failed to establish his qualifications regarding the applicable local” SOC for hospital administrators. In his deposition, H testified about a national SOC, not the local SOC “for a level II trauma center in Saginaw, Michigan, such as defendant. Specifically, [H] based his [SOC] testimony on the national standards set by the Joint Commission. [H] had never worked in a hospital in Michigan and he also conceded that he did not contact any local hospital administrators in the Saginaw area, or any other health system in Michigan, when preparing his opinion” here. He also “conceded that he never had primary responsibility for drafting a policy or procedure for ICU management.” Further, he “had never worked in a level II trauma center or in a teaching hospital staffed with residents, as is defendant. As such, [H] failed to establish that he was knowledgeable of the local [SOC] for a level II trauma center in Saginaw, Michigan.” As a result, he was not qualified to offer SOC testimony here. However, the court agreed with plaintiff that the trial court erred in determining that she failed to offer evidence of causation and in dismissing her nursing-malpractice claim on this basis.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Malpractice (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    This summary also appears under Healthcare Law

    e-Journal #: 73605
    Case: Estate of Jason A. Blackwell v. St. Mary's of MI
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Fort Hood and Tukel; Concurring in part, Dissenting in part - Jansen
    Issues:

    Medical malpractice; Elher v. Misra; Qualification of an expert to testify as to the standard of care (SOC) under MCL 600.2169; Turbin v. Graesser; Qualification of hospital-administration experts; MRE 702; MCL 600.2955; MCL 600.2912a; “The practice of medicine”; Cox v. Flint Bd. of Hosp. Managers; Nursing malpractice; Craig v. Oakwood Hosp.; Waiver; Braverman v. Granger; Intensive Care Unit (ICU)

    Summary:

    The court reversed summary disposition for defendant-hospital as to plaintiff’s nursing-malpractice claims; affirmed the supplemental opinion and order concluding that her anesthesiology expert (Dr. D) was not qualified to testify in support of plaintiff’s hospital-administration claims; and affirmed the trial court to the extent it dismissed her hospital-administration claims on the basis of its determination that her expert witness-H’s testimony was not reliable. But it reversed to the extent the trial court dismissed plaintiff’s entire case, including her nursing-malpractice claims, and remanded. The case arose from the death of plaintiff’s 30-year-old decedent in the ICU of defendant “after his tracheostomy tube became dislodged and several members of” the staff were unable to secure an airway. The court first held that H, plaintiff’s hospital-administration expert, “was not qualified to testify as an expert witness in this case, because in his deposition taken during discovery, [he] failed to establish his qualifications regarding the applicable local” SOC for hospital administrators. In his deposition, H testified about a national SOC, not the local SOC “for a level II trauma center in Saginaw, Michigan, such as defendant. Specifically, [H] based his [SOC] testimony on the national standards set by the Joint Commission. [H] had never worked in a hospital in Michigan and he also conceded that he did not contact any local hospital administrators in the Saginaw area, or any other health system in Michigan, when preparing his opinion” here. He also “conceded that he never had primary responsibility for drafting a policy or procedure for ICU management.” Further, he “had never worked in a level II trauma center or in a teaching hospital staffed with residents, as is defendant. As such, [H] failed to establish that he was knowledgeable of the local [SOC] for a level II trauma center in Saginaw, Michigan.” As a result, he was not qualified to offer SOC testimony here. However, the court agreed with plaintiff that the trial court erred in determining that she failed to offer evidence of causation and in dismissing her nursing-malpractice claim on this basis.

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  • Negligence & Intentional Tort (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 73601
    Case: Gabrielle/MHT Ltd. Dividend Hous. P'ship v. Hamilton Ave. Prop. Holding, LLC
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Ronayne Krause, Sawyer, and Boonstra
    Issues:

    Negligence; Haliw v. City of Sterling Heights; Effect of showing violation of a statutory duty of care; Farmer v. Christensen; Common law duty on everyone engaged in any undertaking to use due care or to not unreasonably endanger the person or property of others; Hill v. Sears, Roebuck & Co.; Liability of a tenant & a landlord for conditions of leased property; McCurtis v. Detroit Hilton; Proximate cause; Craig v. Oakwood Hosp.; Ridley v. Collins; Nuisance; Cloverleaf Car Co. v. Phillips Petroleum Co.

    Summary:

    The court held that defendant-Recycling Revolution’s (RR) status as a tenant did not prevent it from owing a duty of care to plaintiffs-neighboring property owners and that it was also not entitled to a directed verdict on the issue of proximate cause. Further, there was sufficient evidence to allow the nuisance claim to go to the jury. The court also concluded that dismissal of the negligence and gross negligence claims against defendant-Statewide Recycling (SR) did not require dismissal of the nuisance claim, on which the jury found it liable. Thus, it affirmed the judgment for plaintiffs. McCurtis “recognized that both a tenant and a landlord may be liable for conditions of leased property[.]” The fact RR was a tenant of the building rather than a owner did “not relieve it from liability for conditions on the land within its control that contributed to plaintiffs’ damages. The evidence supported a finding that [RR] owed a duty of care to plaintiffs . . . arising from its use of the leased property. It was reasonably foreseeable that the recycling of materials that are considered hazardous or flammable presented a risk of harm to neighboring property owners, especially when conducted in violation of regulations and ordinances related to fire safety.” As to proximate causation, plaintiffs offered evidence that RR “was illegally operating a plastics-recycling business in the warehouse, that the fire could have been controlled if these materials had not been stored near the site of the fire’s origin, and that the presence of these materials allowed the fire to rapidly and intensely spread throughout the building and prevented firefighters from offensively attacking” it. A tenant may also be liable for a nuisance created on leased property that it controls. A “legal cause of plaintiffs’ damages was the uncontrollable fire at the warehouse and [RR’s] recycling and storage of plastic materials in the warehouse, contrary to local ordinances, supported a finding of negligent, reckless, or ultrahazardous conduct.” As to SR, the jury could find that its “continued operation in violation of regulations and ordinances related to fire safety and prevention, as well as its continued storage of hazardous materials, involved, if not negligent, reckless and hazardous conduct that contributed to the intensity and spread of the fire . . . .”

    Full Text Opinion

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