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summaries of opinions as they are released from the Michigan Supreme Court, Michigan Court of Appeals (published & unpublished), and selected U.S. Sixth Circuit.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


Cases appear under the following practice areas:

  • Animal Law (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    This summary also appears under Negligence & Intentional Tort

    e-Journal #: 76257
    Case: Balcom v. Anderson
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam - Murray, M.J. Kelly, and O'Brien
    Issues:

    Dog-bite action; Strict liability; MCL 287.351; Common-law strict liability; MCL 287.288; Common-law negligence; Wrongful death; MCL 600.2922; Principle that the dog must cause the harm; MCL 287.351(1); Hiner v Mojica; Personal representative (PR)

    Summary:

    Holding that because the parties presented conflicting evidence as to whether the dog actually bit the decedent, there was a genuine issue of material fact for the jury to resolve, the court reversed the trial court’s grant of summary disposition for defendants-dog owners and remanded. Plaintiff-PR sued defendants claiming their dog bit the decedent, which contributed to her ultimate death. Plaintiff alleged statutory strict liability, common-law strict liability, common-law negligence, and wrongful death. The trial court granted defendants’ motion for summary disposition and dismissed the case with prejudice. On appeal, the court agreed with plaintiff that summary disposition was improper because there was a genuine issue of material fact whether the dog bite occurred, which was the only issue raised in defendants’ motion. “Both parties presented evidence to support their respective arguments. Plaintiff presented evidence that the bite did occur, including his own affidavit, some photos, and various medical records and reports.” Defendants presented “evidence through various depositions, the animal control report, and an affidavit from the medical examiner to make the argument that a dog bite did not occur.” The court found that, based on “all of the conflicting evidence presented by both parties, there are two versions of how these events occurred. Because the trial court is required to draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmovant, the trial court erred in not concluding that there was a genuine issue of material fact whether the bite occurred.”

    Full Text Opinion

  • Criminal Law (2)

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 76255
    Case: People v. Jones
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Murray, M.J. Kelly, and O’Brien
    Issues:

    Sufficiency of the evidence; OWI & DWLS; Identity; “Operating”; People v Hardiman; Due process

    Summary:

    The court held that there was sufficient evidence to support defendant’s OWI third offense and DWLS second offense convictions, and his due-process rights were not violated. He argued that the convictions were not supported by evidence sufficient to meet the burden of proof—beyond a reasonable doubt—as to the identity element. The facts satisfied that “the Buick was in a public place available to the general public and that defendant was intoxicated.” The parties stipulated that his “license was suspended and proper notice was given by the Secretary of State pursuant to MCL 257.212, and it is undisputed that the Buick was traveling on a public road.” As a result, the elements of DWLS were satisfied. “Finally, the OWI and DWLS offenses both contain a similar requirement: that defendant was operating a motor vehicle.” The court held that the “prosecution was required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant had physical control of the Buick.” Based on the facts that he “possessed keys to the Buick, admitted driving the vehicle to his own residence, and what [Officer R] testified to, the jury could have reasonably concluded that defendant was operating the vehicle at that time, thus satisfying the element of identity.” Defendant argued that there was insufficient evidence of his identity because significant parts of R’s testimony were not credible. “Ultimately, the jury deemed all the testimony and evidence sufficiently credible to find defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.” Second, defendant seemed to suggest that R’s “actions throughout the traffic stop were arbitrary with no underlying rationale.” Defendant offered several theories in an effort to show that R’s “testimony lacked credibility and that defendant was not the person driving.” However, as stated in Hardiman, “every reasonable theory about what could have happened—or here, who was driving—does not need to be negated in order for the prosecution to prove defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Nevertheless, the prosecution did negate several of these theories.” Affirmed.

    Full Text Opinion

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 76262
    Case: People v. Ryans
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Cavanagh, K.F. Kelly, and Redford
    Issues:

    Due process; Right to prepare a defense; Denial of defendant’s request to appoint a psychiatrist to determine the validity of an insanity defense & a psychologist to aid him in challenging the voluntaries of his confessions; People v Kennedy; MCL 768.20a; People v Kowalski

    Summary:

    Holding that defendant failed to show good cause for funds for an expert psychiatrist and that he offered nothing “more than a bare assertion” he suffered from mental illnesses that caused his confessions to be involuntary, the court affirmed the denial of his request for funds for a psychiatrist and a psychologist. In this interlocutory appeal, he argued that the trial court violated his rights to due process and to adequately prepare a defense by denying “his request to appoint a psychiatrist to determine the validity of an insanity defense and a psychologist to aid him in challenging the voluntaries of confessions that he made to law enforcement.” The court concluded that while the trial court incorrectly analyzed the issue as to the request for funds for a psychiatrist, the right result was reached. Defendant did not show, as required under Kennedy, that there was “a reasonable probability both that an expert would be of assistance to the defense and that denial of expert assistance would result in a fundamentally unfair trial.” He simply asserted, without “evidence, that he suffers from a variety of mental illnesses that caused him to be legally insane at the time of his alleged offenses.” He only contended, without “evidence, that his ‘documented health issues’ will be a ‘significant factor at trial.’” This was insufficient under Kennedy. While “MCL 768.20a provides that a court ‘may, upon showing of good cause,’ grant monies for an independent psychiatric evaluation of an indigent defendant, defendant wholly fails to show good cause beyond an unsupported assertion that he suffers from various mental illnesses.” The court also affirmed the denial of funds for an expert psychologist. Although it found the trial court’s reasoning erroneous, reversal was not required given his failure to provide any support for his claim “that mental illness caused him to make involuntary statements to law enforcement.”

    Full Text Opinion

  • Family Law (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 76265
    Case: Gittler v. Gittler
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – M.J. Kelly and O’Brien; Concurring in part, Dissenting in part – Murray
    Issues:

    Custody modification; Proper cause or change of circumstances; Removal of safety restrictions; School enrollment; Consideration of the statutory best-interest factors (MCL 722.23); Pierron v Pierron (Pierron II); Child’s primary residence; Best-interest factors (b), (c), (d), (e), & (g); Clear & convincing evidence

    Summary:

    While the court held that the trial court’s finding that removing the safety restrictions on plaintiff-mother was warranted was against the great weight of the evidence, it concluded that the trial court did not err in determining that it was in the child’s (P) best interests to attend a specified school while in plaintiff’s care. Further, its finding that it was in P’s best interests to primarily live with plaintiff was not against the great weight of the evidence. Thus, the court reversed in part and affirmed in part. As to the removal of the restrictions, the court concluded that because plaintiff had “expressed thoughts of slitting P[]’s throat in the past, and given that she has also demonstrated a willingness to discontinue her medication on the advice of her mother and without consulting her mental-health professionals,” the trial court’s ruling that removing the restrictions was in P’s best interests was against the great weight of the evidence. However, as to the school enrollment issue, “the trial court addressed each and every best interest factor.” When they were relevant to deciding which school it would be in P’s best interests to attend, it “briefly addressed the relevant facts and argument.” It noted in its best-interest analysis “that it had gone through the exhibits and heard the testimony related to both parties preferred schools.” The record showed that the teaching at the school the trial court opted for was individualized, “that the classrooms had small sizes, and that the school had numerous resources.” There was testimony that the curriculum there “offered more time for STEM work per day.” While there was also evidence that defendant-father’s preferred school would be a good school for P, the trial court found “that ‘this is about a 52/48 split’ and the evidence that one school or the other would be better was ‘not overwhelming one way or the other.’ The fact that” it ultimately determined it would be in P’s best interest to attend the one “based on what that school offered was not a finding that is against the great weight of the evidence.” Finally, the court rejected defendant’s contention that the trial court’s findings on best-interest factors (b), (c), (d), (e), and (g) in ruling that it was in P’s best interests to primarily live with plaintiff while attending the school were against the great weight of the evidence.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Litigation (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 76253
    Case: Slue v. Progressive Marathon Ins. Co.
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Rick, Ronayne Krause, and Letica
    Issues:

    Consolidation of cases in two different circuit courts; MCR 2.505(A); “One court of justice” clause (Const 1963, art 6, § 1); Venue; MCR 2.222 & 2.221; Applicability of 2 Crooked Creek, LLC v Frye (Unpub); Actual cash value (ACV)

    Summary:

    Holding that the trial court erred by ordering this case and a case in a different circuit court (the Ubillus case) consolidated pursuant to MCR 2.505(A) under the Michigan Constitution’s “one court of justice” clause, the court reversed and remanded. Plaintiffs sued defendants-insurers in Oakland Circuit Court, alleging systematic underpayment for ACV losses. Weeks later, the Ubillus case, involving a class action complaint against one of the same defendants, was filed in Washtenaw Circuit Court, similarly claiming an insurance policy breach for “failing to pay the full ACV amount.” Plaintiffs’ counsel here successfully moved to consolidate this action with the Ubillus action. The court found as an initial matter that the case relied on by the trial court, 2 Crooked Creek, did not support its ruling. Reviewing case law discussing the “one court of justice” clause, the court noted the Michigan Supreme Court has explained that the “clause was not intended ‘to change the traditionally local character of the courts.’” Considering venue, the court further noted that while it is not considered jurisdictional, there was “no authority establishing that venue may simply be disregarded.” Thus, it concluded that one circuit court “does not have the plenary power to consolidate a case pending before it with a different case pending in another circuit court. Rather, consolidation is governed by MCR 2.505(A)[.]” The plain language of this court rule in turn “requires two or more actions to be pending before the court.” An order changing venue was required, and the trial court recognized this, stating in its order that the “file shall be sent to Washtenaw County Circuit Court.” The court next considered whether this change of venue was permissible under MCR 2.222 and 2.221. While the trial court had the power to order a change of venue pursuant to MCR 2.222(A), because venue was proper in Oakland County, “it could only have done so ‘on motion of a party.’” The court determined that “it would not have been erroneous for the trial court to have treated plaintiffs’ motion to consolidate as also being a motion to change venue. The timeliness of such a motion is questionable[,]” but nothing in either court rule “appears to require a trial court to deny an untimely motion to consolidate.” The court concluded that the propriety of doing so was “better addressed in the trial court.”

    Full Text Opinion

  • Negligence & Intentional Tort (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    This summary also appears under Animal Law

    e-Journal #: 76257
    Case: Balcom v. Anderson
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam - Murray, M.J. Kelly, and O'Brien
    Issues:

    Dog-bite action; Strict liability; MCL 287.351; Common-law strict liability; MCL 287.288; Common-law negligence; Wrongful death; MCL 600.2922; Principle that the dog must cause the harm; MCL 287.351(1); Hiner v Mojica; Personal representative (PR)

    Summary:

    Holding that because the parties presented conflicting evidence as to whether the dog actually bit the decedent, there was a genuine issue of material fact for the jury to resolve, the court reversed the trial court’s grant of summary disposition for defendants-dog owners and remanded. Plaintiff-PR sued defendants claiming their dog bit the decedent, which contributed to her ultimate death. Plaintiff alleged statutory strict liability, common-law strict liability, common-law negligence, and wrongful death. The trial court granted defendants’ motion for summary disposition and dismissed the case with prejudice. On appeal, the court agreed with plaintiff that summary disposition was improper because there was a genuine issue of material fact whether the dog bite occurred, which was the only issue raised in defendants’ motion. “Both parties presented evidence to support their respective arguments. Plaintiff presented evidence that the bite did occur, including his own affidavit, some photos, and various medical records and reports.” Defendants presented “evidence through various depositions, the animal control report, and an affidavit from the medical examiner to make the argument that a dog bite did not occur.” The court found that, based on “all of the conflicting evidence presented by both parties, there are two versions of how these events occurred. Because the trial court is required to draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmovant, the trial court erred in not concluding that there was a genuine issue of material fact whether the bite occurred.”

    Full Text Opinion

  • Probate (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    This summary also appears under Wills & Trusts

    e-Journal #: 76261
    Case: In re Estate of Tansey
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Cameron, Jansen, and Gleicher
    Issues:

    Petition for probate & appointment of a special personal representative (PR); Denial of request to grant a continuance pending discovery; Dismissal without discovery or an evidentiary hearing; Testamentary capacity

    Summary:

    Holding that the probate court did not abuse its discretion by denying petitioner’s request for discovery or by denying his request for appointment of a special PR in the absence of a genuine issue of material fact whether the decedent possessed testamentary capacity to execute a will, the court affirmed dismissal of the petition. Petitioner and respondents were the decedent’s children. He acknowledged that she executed a will before her death, but asserted she lacked the testamentary capacity to do so and was under undue influence at the time. Respondents contended that petitioner knew the decedent had appointed them as co-PRs “and that all of decedent’s assets had already been distributed to the proper beneficiaries.” They also asserted that he “failed to produce ‘evidence or even a legitimate factual allegation to support that a special’” PR was appropriate. They presented affidavits from the decedent’s attorney and his legal assistant “to support that decedent ‘had the requisite mental capacity to dispose of her assets.’” On appeal, petitioner argued that the probate court abused its discretion by failing to permit discovery, to grant a continuance, and to hold an evidentiary hearing before dismissing his petition. Because “the undisputed evidence established that decedent had testamentary capacity to execute the will and because there is no indication that discovery would have uncovered material evidence concerning this issue, the probate court did not err by granting summary disposition and did not abuse its discretion by declining to hold an evidentiary hearing.” Further, given the facts here, the court could not hold that “the probate court abused its discretion by denying petitioner’s request for discovery.” Also, the probate court “did not abuse its discretion by denying petitioner’s request for appointment of a” special PR. He sought appointment of a PR “solely so that the issue of decedent’s testamentary capacity could be investigated. Because a genuine issue of material fact did not exist” as to her testamentary capacity, it was not necessary to appoint a special PR.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Wills & Trusts (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    This summary also appears under Probate

    e-Journal #: 76261
    Case: In re Estate of Tansey
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Cameron, Jansen, and Gleicher
    Issues:

    Petition for probate & appointment of a special personal representative (PR); Denial of request to grant a continuance pending discovery; Dismissal without discovery or an evidentiary hearing; Testamentary capacity

    Summary:

    Holding that the probate court did not abuse its discretion by denying petitioner’s request for discovery or by denying his request for appointment of a special PR in the absence of a genuine issue of material fact whether the decedent possessed testamentary capacity to execute a will, the court affirmed dismissal of the petition. Petitioner and respondents were the decedent’s children. He acknowledged that she executed a will before her death, but asserted she lacked the testamentary capacity to do so and was under undue influence at the time. Respondents contended that petitioner knew the decedent had appointed them as co-PRs “and that all of decedent’s assets had already been distributed to the proper beneficiaries.” They also asserted that he “failed to produce ‘evidence or even a legitimate factual allegation to support that a special’” PR was appropriate. They presented affidavits from the decedent’s attorney and his legal assistant “to support that decedent ‘had the requisite mental capacity to dispose of her assets.’” On appeal, petitioner argued that the probate court abused its discretion by failing to permit discovery, to grant a continuance, and to hold an evidentiary hearing before dismissing his petition. Because “the undisputed evidence established that decedent had testamentary capacity to execute the will and because there is no indication that discovery would have uncovered material evidence concerning this issue, the probate court did not err by granting summary disposition and did not abuse its discretion by declining to hold an evidentiary hearing.” Further, given the facts here, the court could not hold that “the probate court abused its discretion by denying petitioner’s request for discovery.” Also, the probate court “did not abuse its discretion by denying petitioner’s request for appointment of a” special PR. He sought appointment of a PR “solely so that the issue of decedent’s testamentary capacity could be investigated. Because a genuine issue of material fact did not exist” as to her testamentary capacity, it was not necessary to appoint a special PR.

    Full Text Opinion

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