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summaries of opinions as they are released from the Michigan Supreme Court, Michigan Court of Appeals (published & unpublished), and selected U.S. Sixth Circuit.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

  • Alternative Dispute Resolution (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    This summary also appears under Litigation

    e-Journal #: 74001
    Case: Estate of Thomas O'Connor v. O'Connor
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Swartzle, Jansen, and Borrello
    Issues:

    Dispute over enforcement of a settlement agreement; Whether the arbitrator exceeded his authority; Eppel v. Eppel; Principle that error requiring reversal may not be predicated on alleged error to which the aggrieved party contributed by plan or negligence; Lewis v. LeGrow

    Summary:

    The court held that the trial court did not err by enforcing the parties-father’s and son’s settlement agreement. Plaintiff sued defendant claiming “he unlawfully converted property belonging to him, including the proceeds from a refinanced mortgage on his home.” They entered into a settlement agreement, but defendant refused to abide by its terms. Plaintiff then filed the present lawsuit, seeking to enforce the settlement agreement. He died before the matter reached trial and the personal representative of his estate substituted as plaintiff and continued the action. “Defendant testified he agreed to have a retired judge serve as the arbitrator of his original dispute with his father.” He asserted that he had told his attorney “he wanted to go to arbitration, but his attorney advised him to agree to a settlement, and the arbitrator directed him to sign the settlement agreement. Defendant claimed that he initially refused to sign” it, and that he ultimately did so under duress. The trial court found that the settlement agreement was a binding contract, which defendant breached even though he benefitted from it, and that he “failed to establish the defenses of duress or coercion.” On appeal, the court rejected his argument that the arbitrator exceeded his authority by brokering the settlement, “and that the settlement agreement should be invalidated because of duress or coercion.” It noted that because he “contributed to the alleged error by seeking to settle the first lawsuit, participating in the settlement negotiations, and signing the settlement agreement, he cannot now claim relief based on the argument that the arbitrator exceeded the scope of his authority.” Affirmed.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Bankruptcy (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    This summary also appears under Malpractice

    e-Journal #: 73995
    Case: Karas v. Mercy Health Physicians Partners E. Beltline
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Letica, K.F. Kelly, and Redford
    Issues:

    Whether plaintiffs could pursue their medical malpractice action against defendants even though the action was part of their bankruptcy filing; Real party in interest; MCR 2.201(B); Miller v. Chapman Contracting; Principle that when a debtor files a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition, all of the debtor’s assets become property of the bankruptcy estate; 11 USC § 541; A debtor’s right to claim an exemption for an interest in a potential cause of action; §§ 522(d)(11)(D) & (l); Schwab v. Reilly; Szyszlo v. Akowitz

    Summary:

    The court held that the trial court erred by granting defendants-medical facility and nurse practitioner summary disposition of plaintiffs-husband’s (Karas) and wife’s medical malpractice action based on a lack of standing. Plaintiffs sued defendants for medical malpractice alleging Karas’s back pain and fatigue worsened due to an “ill-advised medication change and caused other attendant problems.” They subsequently filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and claimed an exemption for their medical malpractice action. Defendants successfully sought summary disposition on the basis that all of plaintiffs’ assets, including their medical malpractice action, became the sole property of the bankruptcy estate and the bankruptcy trustee was the only real party in interest and the only party who had standing to pursue the action. The trial court also denied plaintiffs’ motion for reconsideration. On appeal, the court agreed with plaintiffs that the trial court erred by granting summary disposition for defendants because they were real parties in interest when they properly claimed an exemption for their medical malpractice action from their bankruptcy estate. “[I]t is undisputed that plaintiffs claimed an exemption for this medical malpractice claim when they filed their petition for Chapter 7 bankruptcy without objection.” As such, the exemption “was valid and vested plaintiffs with a present and substantial interest in this case.” It also noted that, “[m]inimally, the information contained in Schedule C of the bankruptcy petition and the affidavits that plaintiffs filed with their motion for reconsideration created a genuine issue of material fact regarding whether plaintiffs properly claimed an exemption for this malpractice action and, therefore, had standing as real parties in interest.” Vacated and remanded.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Criminal Law (3)

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 73997
    Case: People v. Chambers
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Murray, Cavanagh, and Cameron
    Issues:

    Failure to file a motion to withdraw a plea; MCR 6.310; Ineffective assistance of counsel in the plea-bargaining process; People v. Broyles; People v. Baham; People v. Anderson; People v. Pennington; Principle that a defendant pleading nolo contendere must enter an understanding, voluntary, & accurate plea; MCR 6.302(A); People v. Graves; People v. Peete; Effect of a defect in the plea-taking process; People v. Brown; Illusory bargain; People v. Pointer-Bey; People v. Williams; Sentence enhancement; MCL 769.13(1); People v. Bollinger; People v. Johnson; Harmless error; People v. Head; Ineffective assistance of counsel at sentencing; Glover v. United States; Failure to object to the scoring of OV 18; MCL 777.48; People v. McGraw

    Summary:

    Holding that defendant’s plea bargain was illusory, and that defense counsel’s failure to object to the scoring of OV 18 constituted ineffective assistance, the court remanded. He pled nolo contendere to “resisting or obstructing a police officer and second-offense OWI for erratically operating a motor vehicle into opposing traffic on a highway, then being hostile with police officers while they were assisting in his blood draw under a search warrant.” The trial court sentenced him to concurrent terms of 32 days in jail and 18 months’ probation for each conviction, with credit for 32 days served. On appeal, the court agreed with him that the prosecution’s agreement not to sentence him as a fourth-offense habitual offender was meaningless, and thus, the plea bargain was illusory because the amended information was not timely filed. “The purported sole benefit of defendant’s plea agreement was the prosecution’s promise to dismiss the habitual-offender notice if defendant pleaded nolo contendere; however, that benefit was illusory because the prosecution was disallowed by law to seek sentence enhancement. Defendant was misinformed and did not receive the value he thought he was receiving.” In fact, he did not receive any “benefit from the bargain.” As such, his “plea of nolo contendere cannot be considered voluntarily and understandingly tendered.” Thus, the court concluded that he “did not receive the effective assistance of counsel in the plea-bargaining process.” It also agreed with his claim that defense counsel was ineffective for failing to object to the scoring of OV 18, noting that such an objection “would have been successful and defense counsel’s failure to oppose the score was so deficient that it fell below the objective standard of reasonableness.” Further, because an objection would have more likely than not resulted in 0 points being scored for OV 18, “reducing defendant’s OV score from 30 to 10 points and resulting in a reduction in the minimum sentencing guidelines range from 0 to 11 months to 0 to 9 months, . . . there is a reasonable probability that defense counsel’s deficient performance prejudiced defendant.”

    Full Text Opinion

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 73978
    Case: People v. King
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Jansen and Borrello; Concurrence – Swartzle
    Issues:

    Waiver of counsel; People v. Anderson; MCR 6.005(D); People v. Russell; The right to self-representation; Faretta v. California; Requirement that a waiver be knowing, voluntary, & intelligent; Iowa v. Tovar; Plain error review; People v. Carines; Whether defendant suffered a complete deprivation of counsel; Purpose of the guarantee of the right to counsel; Johnson v. Zerbst; Effect of a pro se defendant’s inviting or agreeing to any substantial participation by counsel; McKaskle v. Wiggins; An agreement under People v. Cobbs

    Summary:

    While the trial court plainly erred by failing to comply with the substance of Anderson and MCR 6.005(D), the court affirmed defendant’s no-contest plea-based conviction of first-degree home invasion because the underlying purposes of the right to counsel were alternatively upheld during his Cobbs plea. Applying the Carines plain error standard, it noted that even if the first three prongs were met, it still had to exercise its discretion to determine whether reversal was justified under the fourth one. Since he did not assert actual innocence, the question was “whether the trial court’s plain error in this case ‘seriously affect[ed] the fairness, integrity or public reputation of judicial proceedings independent of’” his innocence. Reversal is not warranted under this “prong if the ‘underlying purposes’ of the right at issue have been alternatively upheld.” The court noted that he “made it evident to the trial court that he, in fact, was not ignorant of his legal and constitutional rights.” In his written motion seeking to terminate his counsel’s representation and to represent himself, he “claimed that defense counsel had declined to file and investigate defenses and pretrial motions that defendant had expressed a desire to pursue.” He also cited the Sixth Amendment and Faretta. In addition, his motion “mirrored substantive language in" Anderson. Thus, the court concluded that, “despite the trial court failing to create an adequate record regarding defendant’s waiver, defendant nonetheless made it apparent that his assertion of the right to self-representation was unequivocal, that he understood the rights and risks involved in his request, that he possessed an understanding of the applicable legal rules and procedures involved in asserting his request, and that he would not unduly burden or inconvenience the” trial court. Further, the court’s exercise of discretion was “significantly influenced in this case by the fact that defendant was convicted by plea and the record reflects that defense counsel played a significant role in the plea process, advising defendant in much the same way as if he had been in his typical representative role with respect to defendant even though defense counsel was purportedly only serving in a ‘standby’ capacity.” It appeared that, whether by acquiescence or consent, he “actually reaped the benefits of being represented by counsel despite purporting to represent himself.”

    Full Text Opinion

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 73988
    Case: People v. Weld
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Letica, K.F. Kelly, and Redford
    Issues:

    Ineffective assistance of counsel; People v. Trakhtenberg; Whether defendant had to be advised of his rights under Miranda v. Arizona; Whether there was a custodial interrogation; People v. Barritt; Location of the interview; Oregon v. Mathiason; Duration of the questioning; People v. Elliott; Failure to make a meritless motion; People v. Knapp; Failure to request a voluntariness jury instruction; Matters of trial strategy; People v. Dunigan; Defending on the basis the act was committed involuntarily; People v. Likine

    Summary:

    Concluding that defendant’s claim his confession should have been suppressed lacked merit, the court rejected his argument that defense counsel was ineffective for failing to move to suppress it. It also rejected his contention that defense counsel was ineffective for not requesting a voluntariness jury instruction, finding that the evidentiary basis for the instruction was lacking. Thus, the court affirmed his CSC I convictions. Reviewing the factors set forth in Barritt to determine whether defendant was in custody and thus, entitled to be read his Miranda rights, it first noted, as to the location of the interview, that there “is no requirement that all interviews that occur at a police station require a Miranda warning.” It concluded that the location factor weighed against a finding that defendant “was in custody. After the trooper called defendant, he arranged to come in for an interview. Defendant then drove himself to the state police post.” The duration of the questioning factor also did not weigh in favor of finding that he was in custody. His statements likewise did not weigh in favor of such a finding. Just like the interview in Barritt, defendant’s interview was approximately 90 minutes long. But the trooper here told defendant “from the onset that he was not under arrest and that he was free to leave at any time. Moreover, the detective testified that his method of interrogation did not involve yelling or raising his voice and” the record confirmed this. As to the next two factors, he “was not physically restrained because he was not handcuffed, and unlike the defendant in Barritt, defendant was not escorted to the police station.” In addition, he “left the room to use the bathroom and voluntarily returned before being joined by the trooper and detective.” While they both appeared “to be wearing their service weapons, they remained holstered.” And although it appeared the detective’s chair was near the door, the door was not locked. The court further concluded that defendant was not in a coercive environment, given that he arranged for the “interview and was not subjected to the same consistently coercive and restrictive treatment as the defendant in Barritt.” Defense counsel was not ineffective for failing to make a futile motion to suppress his statements. The court added that, even without his statements, “there was still overwhelming evidence to convict” him.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Family Law (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 73984
    Case: Haig v. Haig
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Swartzle, Jansen, and Borrello
    Issues:

    Divorce; Property division; Whether a party’s pension was a marital asset; MCL 552.18(1); Pickering v. Pickering; Treatment of a home; Valuation date; Woodington v. Shokoohi; Consideration of manifestations of intent to lead separate lives in apportioning the marital estate; Byington v. Byington; Whether a setoff was inequitable

    Summary:

    While the court held that the trial court committed a legal error in ruling that defendant-ex-husband’s pension was not a marital asset, reversal was not required. The trial court did not err in determining that the parties’ second home (the 2006 home) was a marital asset and by setting off the money plaintiff-ex-wife received from its sale against the value of their 1994 home. It also did not err in selecting a valuation date for the 1994 home or an annuity, or in finding that defendant’s inheritance money used to pay off a mortgage was not a marital asset. Further, it did not err in awarding him an account that was worth approximately the same amount as the marital asset plaintiff dissipated, and the court held that its overall property division was equitable and fair in light of its findings. Thus, it affirmed the divorce judgment. Defendant’s “pension was clearly marital property because” he accrued it during the marriage. But the trial court had “discretion in its treatment of a pension.” Given that the pension was in pay status, the court could not find, based on the record, “that the trial court abused its discretion by determining that the pension should be treated as defendant’s income and awarded only as spousal support. Moreover, the trial court properly considered the situation and circumstances of the parties in determining that plaintiff was not entitled to an award of spousal support, and” she did not challenge this finding. The trial court believed that she elected “not to work after she began receiving the disbursements from her father’s asbestos lawsuit, and while” her doctor testified her condition worsened in the last few months of 2018, the court was “not left with a definite and firm conviction that the trial court erred by finding that plaintiff could work at least part-time . . . .” As to the totality of the property division, plaintiff was awarded “the $120,000 that she took from the joint nest-egg account, the proceeds of the 2006 home totaling approximately $20,000, and half of the marital portion of the” annuity. Defendant was awarded his “account of approximately $124,683, the marital home for which he would have received a profit of $20,000 in 2014, and the other half of the marital portion of the” annuity. This was an approximately equal division. As to “nonmarital assets, the award was not required to be equitable.”

    Full Text Opinion

  • Litigation (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    This summary also appears under Alternative Dispute Resolution

    e-Journal #: 74001
    Case: Estate of Thomas O'Connor v. O'Connor
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Swartzle, Jansen, and Borrello
    Issues:

    Dispute over enforcement of a settlement agreement; Whether the arbitrator exceeded his authority; Eppel v. Eppel; Principle that error requiring reversal may not be predicated on alleged error to which the aggrieved party contributed by plan or negligence; Lewis v. LeGrow

    Summary:

    The court held that the trial court did not err by enforcing the parties-father’s and son’s settlement agreement. Plaintiff sued defendant claiming “he unlawfully converted property belonging to him, including the proceeds from a refinanced mortgage on his home.” They entered into a settlement agreement, but defendant refused to abide by its terms. Plaintiff then filed the present lawsuit, seeking to enforce the settlement agreement. He died before the matter reached trial and the personal representative of his estate substituted as plaintiff and continued the action. “Defendant testified he agreed to have a retired judge serve as the arbitrator of his original dispute with his father.” He asserted that he had told his attorney “he wanted to go to arbitration, but his attorney advised him to agree to a settlement, and the arbitrator directed him to sign the settlement agreement. Defendant claimed that he initially refused to sign” it, and that he ultimately did so under duress. The trial court found that the settlement agreement was a binding contract, which defendant breached even though he benefitted from it, and that he “failed to establish the defenses of duress or coercion.” On appeal, the court rejected his argument that the arbitrator exceeded his authority by brokering the settlement, “and that the settlement agreement should be invalidated because of duress or coercion.” It noted that because he “contributed to the alleged error by seeking to settle the first lawsuit, participating in the settlement negotiations, and signing the settlement agreement, he cannot now claim relief based on the argument that the arbitrator exceeded the scope of his authority.” Affirmed.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Malpractice (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    This summary also appears under Bankruptcy

    e-Journal #: 73995
    Case: Karas v. Mercy Health Physicians Partners E. Beltline
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Letica, K.F. Kelly, and Redford
    Issues:

    Whether plaintiffs could pursue their medical malpractice action against defendants even though the action was part of their bankruptcy filing; Real party in interest; MCR 2.201(B); Miller v. Chapman Contracting; Principle that when a debtor files a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition, all of the debtor’s assets become property of the bankruptcy estate; 11 USC § 541; A debtor’s right to claim an exemption for an interest in a potential cause of action; §§ 522(d)(11)(D) & (l); Schwab v. Reilly; Szyszlo v. Akowitz

    Summary:

    The court held that the trial court erred by granting defendants-medical facility and nurse practitioner summary disposition of plaintiffs-husband’s (Karas) and wife’s medical malpractice action based on a lack of standing. Plaintiffs sued defendants for medical malpractice alleging Karas’s back pain and fatigue worsened due to an “ill-advised medication change and caused other attendant problems.” They subsequently filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and claimed an exemption for their medical malpractice action. Defendants successfully sought summary disposition on the basis that all of plaintiffs’ assets, including their medical malpractice action, became the sole property of the bankruptcy estate and the bankruptcy trustee was the only real party in interest and the only party who had standing to pursue the action. The trial court also denied plaintiffs’ motion for reconsideration. On appeal, the court agreed with plaintiffs that the trial court erred by granting summary disposition for defendants because they were real parties in interest when they properly claimed an exemption for their medical malpractice action from their bankruptcy estate. “[I]t is undisputed that plaintiffs claimed an exemption for this medical malpractice claim when they filed their petition for Chapter 7 bankruptcy without objection.” As such, the exemption “was valid and vested plaintiffs with a present and substantial interest in this case.” It also noted that, “[m]inimally, the information contained in Schedule C of the bankruptcy petition and the affidavits that plaintiffs filed with their motion for reconsideration created a genuine issue of material fact regarding whether plaintiffs properly claimed an exemption for this malpractice action and, therefore, had standing as real parties in interest.” Vacated and remanded.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Native American Law (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    This summary also appears under Termination of Parental Rights

    e-Journal #: 74022
    Case: In re Porphir
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Letica, K.F. Kelly, and Redford
    Issues:

    Termination under § 19b(3)(c)(i); Matter of Dahms; Children’s best interests; In re Olive/Metts Minors; In re Moss Minors; In re White; In re Schadler; Compliance with the notice provisions of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) (25 USC § 1901 et seq.) & the Michigan Indian Family Preservation Act (MIFPA) (MCL 712B.1 et seq.); In re Morris; MCR 3.965(B)(2); In re Jones

    Summary:

    The court held that § (c)(i) supported termination of respondent-mother’s parental rights and that doing so was in the children’s best interests. But as the DHHS and the trial court did not comply with the notice requirements of the ICWA and the MIFPA, the court conditionally reversed the order terminating both respondents’ rights and remanded. It first determined that clear and convincing evidence supported terminating the mother’s parental rights under § (c)(i). Over “182 days elapsed between the issuance of the initial disposition order and the termination of” her rights. The barriers leading “to adjudication, such as substance abuse, lack of adequate housing and food, inability to manage resources, emotional instability, and lack of parenting skills, all continued to exist throughout the case with no reasonable likelihood that [she] would rectify them considering the children’s ages.” She did not resolve her substance abuse issues or the housing situation, and her relationship and parenting skills continued to pose a barrier. As to her ability to rectify the conditions, she waited nearly a year before engaging “in substance abuse services, and she never fully decided that she needed to change anything. Additionally, although she completed her parenting-skills programs, she struggled to interact properly with the children at parenting visits.” The court noted that the children, aged six and nine, “needed stability and permanency to deal with the trauma and behavioral issues that they developed as a result of” her care. Respondent-father’s only argument was that the DHHS and the trial court failed to comply with the ICWA’s and MIFPA’s notice requirements. The DHHS conceded this, and the record supported it. He “informed the trial court at the preliminary hearing that he might have Native American heritage because his brother was a member of the Cherokee tribe.” As a result, the notice requirements of § 1912(a) were triggered. Also, given that “the DHHS had information that suggested that the children may be Indian children and the trial court and respondent-father’s counsel knew that the children may be Indian children, the notice requirements of MCL 712B.9(1) were triggered.” Yet the record indicated that “no steps were taken to satisfy” them. Thus, conditional reversal of the termination order was required with remand for compliance with the requirements.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Termination of Parental Rights (2)

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 74023
    Case: In re Mitchell
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Letica, K.F. Kelly, and Redford
    Issues:

    Termination under §§ 19b(3)(c)(i) & (j); Principle that only one statutory ground must be met; In re Moss Minors; Whether there was any meaningful change in the parent’s ability to overcome the circumstances that originally caused adjudication; In re Williams; A parent’s persistent failure to overcome substance abuse despite participation in treatment as grounds for termination; In re Conley; Termination when a parent fails to prevent the child’s exposure to domestic abuse that causes the child harm; In re Plump; Best interests of the children; MCL 712A.19b(5); In re Olive/Metts Minors; In re White; Effect of a parent’s inability to provide stability & permanence for the children; In re L D Rippy; In re Brown/Kindle/Muhammad Minors; Reasonable reunification efforts & a parent’s commensurate responsibility to participate in & benefit from the services offered; In re Frey

    Summary:

    Holding that at least one statutory ground was met, that termination was in the children’s best interests, and that the DHHS made reasonable reunification efforts, the court affirmed termination of respondent-mother’s parental rights. Her parental rights were terminated based on her substance abuse and emotional instability, and her abusive relationship with the children’s father. On appeal, the court rejected her argument that the DHHS failed to prove a statutory ground for termination. “At the time of the termination hearing, respondent had not established a lengthy period of sobriety and continued to use substance abuse as a method of coping with other ongoing issues.” In addition, “there was abundant evidence that respondent continued to struggle with domestic violence and was either unwilling or unable to separate herself from the children’s father.” The court also rejected her claim that termination was not in the children’s best interests. “Respondent was almost wholly unable or unwilling to meaningfully comply with her case service plan, demonstrated little benefit from those services that she did participate in, and demonstrated no lasting commitment to doing what was necessary for her children to return to her home. Despite regularly testing positive for cocaine and other drugs, respondent only sparingly participated in substance abuse counseling and treatment and rejected recommendations that she undergo a more intensive treatment program. She also continued to associate with the children’s father, a man who abused her.” Finally, the court rejected her contention that the DHHS failed to provide reasonable reunification efforts. “Despite an initial showing of participation and desire, respondent faltered as time passed and simply did not participate in services that would secure the return of her children to her care. [She] only chose to complete a seven-day drug treatment program and, after relapse, rejected the recommendation that she participate in an intensive 30-day program. She failed to engage in counseling services to learn new methods of coping with stress and loneliness, but resorted to the same behaviors that caused the children to be placed in foster care.”

    Full Text Opinion

    Full Text Opinion

    This summary also appears under Native American Law

    e-Journal #: 74022
    Case: In re Porphir
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Letica, K.F. Kelly, and Redford
    Issues:

    Termination under § 19b(3)(c)(i); Matter of Dahms; Children’s best interests; In re Olive/Metts Minors; In re Moss Minors; In re White; In re Schadler; Compliance with the notice provisions of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) (25 USC § 1901 et seq.) & the Michigan Indian Family Preservation Act (MIFPA) (MCL 712B.1 et seq.); In re Morris; MCR 3.965(B)(2); In re Jones

    Summary:

    The court held that § (c)(i) supported termination of respondent-mother’s parental rights and that doing so was in the children’s best interests. But as the DHHS and the trial court did not comply with the notice requirements of the ICWA and the MIFPA, the court conditionally reversed the order terminating both respondents’ rights and remanded. It first determined that clear and convincing evidence supported terminating the mother’s parental rights under § (c)(i). Over “182 days elapsed between the issuance of the initial disposition order and the termination of” her rights. The barriers leading “to adjudication, such as substance abuse, lack of adequate housing and food, inability to manage resources, emotional instability, and lack of parenting skills, all continued to exist throughout the case with no reasonable likelihood that [she] would rectify them considering the children’s ages.” She did not resolve her substance abuse issues or the housing situation, and her relationship and parenting skills continued to pose a barrier. As to her ability to rectify the conditions, she waited nearly a year before engaging “in substance abuse services, and she never fully decided that she needed to change anything. Additionally, although she completed her parenting-skills programs, she struggled to interact properly with the children at parenting visits.” The court noted that the children, aged six and nine, “needed stability and permanency to deal with the trauma and behavioral issues that they developed as a result of” her care. Respondent-father’s only argument was that the DHHS and the trial court failed to comply with the ICWA’s and MIFPA’s notice requirements. The DHHS conceded this, and the record supported it. He “informed the trial court at the preliminary hearing that he might have Native American heritage because his brother was a member of the Cherokee tribe.” As a result, the notice requirements of § 1912(a) were triggered. Also, given that “the DHHS had information that suggested that the children may be Indian children and the trial court and respondent-father’s counsel knew that the children may be Indian children, the notice requirements of MCL 712B.9(1) were triggered.” Yet the record indicated that “no steps were taken to satisfy” them. Thus, conditional reversal of the termination order was required with remand for compliance with the requirements.

    Full Text Opinion

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