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summaries of opinions as they are released from the Michigan Supreme Court, Michigan Court of Appeals (published & unpublished), and selected U.S. Sixth Circuit.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

  • Civil Rights (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    This summary also appears under Employment & Labor Law

    e-Journal #: 76380
    Case: Mays v. International Mkt. Place, Inc.
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Murray, Jansen, and Riordan
    Issues:

    Sexual discrimination/harassment under the Michigan Civil Rights Act (CRA); MCL 37.2202(1)(a); Hostile-environment & quid pro quo sexual harassment; MCL 37.2103(ii) & (iii); Radtke v Everett; Hamed v Wayne Cnty; Function of a pleading; Dalley v Dykema Gossett; Admission of hearsay evidence under MRE 803(24); Invasion of privacy; Doe v Henry Ford Health Sys; Nyman v Thomas Reuters Holdings, Inc; Defamation; Ghanam v Does

    Summary:

    The court held that the trial court did not err by granting defendant-former employer summary disposition of plaintiff-former employee’s claims for sexual discrimination, invasion of privacy, and defamation. Following her termination, she filed a “cursory” pro se complaint. Without holding oral argument, the trial court granted summary disposition for defendant, finding plaintiff’s complaint was “facially deficient, consisting of ‘broad statements and generalizations of mistreatment that are not expanded upon.’” It also found that in any event she “failed to present evidence to establish a prima facie case of sexual discrimination under hostile work environment or quid pro quo harassment, invasion of privacy, or defamation.” The court rejected her argument that the trial court erred by granting defendant’s motion for summary disposition because she stated plausible causes of action and presented sufficient evidence to establish her claims. It found that although the allegations in her complaint “were sufficient to put defendant on notice of a claim for hostile work environment on the basis of sexual harassment,” she did not offer “admissible evidence to establish a prima facie case” of such claim. Further, “even viewing the facts in the light most favorable to plaintiff, the complaint did not contain sufficient allegations to establish a cause of action for quid pro quo harassment.” And the trial court did not err by determining that her “evidence was not admissible and did not support her claims.” The court also found that she could not maintain claims for invasion of privacy or defamation. She “did not allege (1) what statements were disclosed, (2) that the statements were disclosed to a substantially large group of people, and therefore, the private information would become public knowledge, or (3) that the statements were highly offensive to a reasonable person.” The allegations “were too vague and facially deficient to put defendant on notice of the basis of plaintiffs claim of invasion of privacy.” Even if she had sufficiently pled “a cause of action for invasion of privacy under a theory of public disclosure of private facts,” the trial court properly granted summary disposition for defendant. Her complaint was also deficient to state a claim for defamation. She could not meet the first element, and despite asserting that the statements at issue “tarnished her reputation in her work community, caused her to suffer mental anguish, and caused her to experience hardship at her new place of employment,” she failed to present “evidence that she was harmed by the statements.” Affirmed.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Contracts (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    This summary also appears under Litigation

    e-Journal #: 76381
    Case: Haqqani v. Brandes
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Shapiro, Borrello, and O’Brien
    Issues:

    Motion to enforce a settlement agreement; “Offer” & “acceptance”; Kloian v Domino’s Pizza LLC; Mutual assent; Clark v Al-Amin; Contract to make a contract; Attorney fees; The “American Rule”

    Summary:

    Holding that the parties did not reach an agreement on material terms and thus, that no contract was formed as to the proposed settlement, the court reversed the trial court’s order granting plaintiffs’ motion to enforce a purported settlement agreement. It also reversed the award of attorney fees to plaintiffs as there was no “identifiable source” permitting the trial court do so. The case arose from a real property dispute. The court determined that an email from defendants’ counsel to plaintiffs’ counsel constituted an offer, but plaintiffs’ counsel’s response was not an acceptance as it “was not in strict conformance with the offer and did not manifest an intent to be bound by the offer as presented[.]” Plaintiffs contended that the offer was accepted, focusing only “on the phrase ‘the settlement offer is accepted[.]’” However, the court concluded that “the additional explanation included in the response of plaintiffs’ counsel makes clear that the acceptance was not in ‘strict conformance’ with the offer as required to form a contract.” Plaintiffs’ counsel’s alleged acceptance “included the proviso that there was no settlement agreement unless a ‘fully executed document in recordable form withdrawing the 5th modification to the declaration of restrictions and acknowledging that the original declaration of restrictions (not including the permanent easements) expired in 1999’ was actually obtained.” It was clear from the email exchanges “that ‘fully executed’ meant that the document was signed and agreed to by” two non-parties (H and U). The court found that an “objective view of the express words in the parties’ emails reveals that plaintiffs’ attorney wanted a guaranteed result regarding the agreement of [H] and [U] and the obtainment of a fully executed and recordable document, while defendants’ attorney only offered to attempt to secure this result; thus, there was never a meeting of the minds on these terms, regardless of what each may have subjectively believed.” As a result, there was no contract. The court added that disclaimer language about “establishing a contract by email that was included in the email of plaintiffs’ attorney also belies the claim that a contract was formed.” Further, as to attorney fees, no “statute, court rule, or valid contract permitting” this award was identified. Remanded.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Criminal Law (2)

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 76383
    Case: People v. Headen
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Shapiro, Borrello, and O’Brien
    Issues:

    The trial court’s authority to enter an amended judgment of sentence (JOS); Whether omission of the maximum imposed sentence on a JOS was a clerical or a substantive mistake under MCR 6.435; People v Comer; Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor (SCRAM)

    Summary:

    Holding that the omission of defendant’s maximum imposed sentence on his prior JOS was a clerical mistake, the court affirmed the trial court’s entry of an amended JOS that reflected his maximum sentence was 10 years but left the other provisions of the prior JOS unchanged. He pled nolo contendere to AWIGBH in 2019 and was sentenced to probation in addition to a term of incarceration. His probation conditions included refraining from using alcohol and wearing a SCRAM. He later pled guilty, as part of a Cobbs agreement for a year and a day sentence, to violating his probation by tampering with his SCRAM. On 3/27/20, he was sentenced to a minimum of 366 days in prison with 187 days’ jail credit. But the JOS failed to include an entry for his maximum sentence. In 6/20, the trial court entered the amended JOS to correct this omission. He argued that it lacked the authority to do so. The issue was whether the omission of his maximum imposed sentence on the 3/27/20 JOS “was a clerical or a substantive mistake under MCR 6.435.” The court noted that, unlike “in Comer where the trial court twice failed to check the box for lifetime monitoring, here, defendant had been informed of his maximum sentence when the trial court made clear its understanding that it would impose both a minimum and a maximum sentence during the sentencing hearing. Because the trial court made clear that it understood that defendant would be incarcerated for longer than the minimum sentence reached in the Cobbs agreement, it could never have been” its intent to sentence him only to 366 days “with no maximum term. Thus, unlike in Comer, the trial court understood and conveyed to defendant the maximum penalty and its failure to place the maximum sentence on the sentence information is not a substantive misunderstanding of law, but precisely the sort of omission that MCR 6.435(A) contemplates.” The court added that nothing in “MCR 6.435(A) requires the trial court to provide defendant with a hearing before correcting a clerical mistake, and correcting such a mistake without providing a hearing does not violate due process.”

    Full Text Opinion

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 76428
    Case: United States v. Bass
    Court: U.S. Court of Appeals Sixth Circuit ( Published Opinion )
    Judges: Rogers and Murphy; Dissent – White
    Issues:

    Sentencing; Compassionate release; 18 USC § 3582(c)(1)(A); The sentencing factors in § 3553(a); Legal standard for evaluating factor § 3553(a)(6) (disparities with other defendants); Whether judges are to act like “parole boards” in assessing compassionate-release cases; Consideration of the material changes in COVID-19 conditions

    Summary:

    [This appeal was from the ED-MI.] The court reversed the district court’s grant of compassionate release to defendant-Bass, holding that it abused its discretion where its decision was based on legal errors, and remanded for reevaluation based on current facts and circumstances. Bass was serving two life sentences for murder. He moved for compassionate release in 2020 on the basis that, as a morbidly obese 51-year-old African American male, he had a heightened risk from COVID 19. The district court granted him immediate release, citing the CDC guidelines as they then existed, and its determination that he was unlikely to reoffend. A divided panel previously granted the government’s motion for an emergency stay. In this merits appeal, the court found that the district court’s “analysis of the compassionate release factors rested upon two errors of law.” The first involved its use of the incorrect legal standard in evaluating factor § 3553(a)(6), the need to avoid unwarranted disparities with other defendants. It erred by comparing Bass’s sentence with that of a codefendant – “this factor concerns national disparities between defendants with similar criminal histories convicted of similar criminal conduct[.]” It also erred in concluding that, “by passing the compassionate release statute, Congress had simply transferred the discretionary power to grant parole from the Parole Commission to district courts. That is incorrect. . . . By analogizing its role to that of a parole board, the district court framed the legal question in a manner that Congress had expressly condemned when it shifted away from the rehabilitation focus of criminal sentencing. [It] erred by conflating the old parole system with the new compassionate release framework . . . .” The court further noted that, given the serious nature of Bass’s crimes, serving 22 years of his sentence did not seem proportionate, and found it “troubling” the district court concluded that the seriousness of his crimes was “outweighed by the rehabilitation and other mitigating factors . . . .” Additionally, the district court appeared to give “little weight” to the possibility the public could be endangered by his release. On remand, the district court is to reconsider whether “extraordinary and compelling” reasons exist given new developments in the rate of infections at the prison facility and the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine (which he had refused).

    Full Text Opinion

  • Employment & Labor Law (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    This summary also appears under Civil Rights

    e-Journal #: 76380
    Case: Mays v. International Mkt. Place, Inc.
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Murray, Jansen, and Riordan
    Issues:

    Sexual discrimination/harassment under the Michigan Civil Rights Act (CRA); MCL 37.2202(1)(a); Hostile-environment & quid pro quo sexual harassment; MCL 37.2103(ii) & (iii); Radtke v Everett; Hamed v Wayne Cnty; Function of a pleading; Dalley v Dykema Gossett; Admission of hearsay evidence under MRE 803(24); Invasion of privacy; Doe v Henry Ford Health Sys; Nyman v Thomas Reuters Holdings, Inc; Defamation; Ghanam v Does

    Summary:

    The court held that the trial court did not err by granting defendant-former employer summary disposition of plaintiff-former employee’s claims for sexual discrimination, invasion of privacy, and defamation. Following her termination, she filed a “cursory” pro se complaint. Without holding oral argument, the trial court granted summary disposition for defendant, finding plaintiff’s complaint was “facially deficient, consisting of ‘broad statements and generalizations of mistreatment that are not expanded upon.’” It also found that in any event she “failed to present evidence to establish a prima facie case of sexual discrimination under hostile work environment or quid pro quo harassment, invasion of privacy, or defamation.” The court rejected her argument that the trial court erred by granting defendant’s motion for summary disposition because she stated plausible causes of action and presented sufficient evidence to establish her claims. It found that although the allegations in her complaint “were sufficient to put defendant on notice of a claim for hostile work environment on the basis of sexual harassment,” she did not offer “admissible evidence to establish a prima facie case” of such claim. Further, “even viewing the facts in the light most favorable to plaintiff, the complaint did not contain sufficient allegations to establish a cause of action for quid pro quo harassment.” And the trial court did not err by determining that her “evidence was not admissible and did not support her claims.” The court also found that she could not maintain claims for invasion of privacy or defamation. She “did not allege (1) what statements were disclosed, (2) that the statements were disclosed to a substantially large group of people, and therefore, the private information would become public knowledge, or (3) that the statements were highly offensive to a reasonable person.” The allegations “were too vague and facially deficient to put defendant on notice of the basis of plaintiffs claim of invasion of privacy.” Even if she had sufficiently pled “a cause of action for invasion of privacy under a theory of public disclosure of private facts,” the trial court properly granted summary disposition for defendant. Her complaint was also deficient to state a claim for defamation. She could not meet the first element, and despite asserting that the statements at issue “tarnished her reputation in her work community, caused her to suffer mental anguish, and caused her to experience hardship at her new place of employment,” she failed to present “evidence that she was harmed by the statements.” Affirmed.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Insurance (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 76372
    Case: Auto Club Group Ins. Co. v. Government Employees Ins. Co.
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Shapiro, Borrello, and O’Brien
    Issues:

    Priority dispute between insurers; Liability for payment of no-fault benefits under MCL 500.3163; Goldstein v Progressive Cas Ins Co; Comparing Transp Ins Co v Home Ins Co; Principle that an injured party must turn to his or her own insurer for payment of no-fault benefits, regardless of whether the injured party’s insured vehicle was involved in the accident; MCL 500.3114(1); Titan Ins Co v American Country Ins Co; Requirement that the owner or registrant of a motor vehicle carry insurance on it; MCL 500.3101(1); Ardt v Titan Ins Co; “Owner”; MCL 500.3101(2)(k)(i); Subrogation; Auto Club Ins Ass’n v New York Life Ins Co; Principle that subrogation is not available to a volunteer; Reformation

    Summary:

    The court held that the trial court did not err by granting plaintiff-insurer summary disposition in its action seeking reimbursement from defendant-insurer. Non-party Layman, who lives in California, was injured in an accident while driving his mother’s car in Michigan. His mother’s insurer (plaintiff) paid benefits after Layman’s insurer (defendant) refused to pay. Plaintiff then sought a declaration that defendant was the insurer highest in priority for payment of benefits. The trial court denied defendant’s motion for summary disposition and granted plaintiff’s, rejecting defendant’s argument that MCL 500.3163 applied only if the out-of-state insured’s policy applied to the accident at issue. It noted that, “when an insurance company has filed a certification under MCL 500.3163, the insurance company cannot rely on policy exclusions to avoid its obligation to pay its out-of-state insured’s benefits.” On appeal, the court rejected defendant’s argument that the trial court erred by finding it liable under MCL 500.3163. “[L]ike the policy in Transp Ins Co, the policy here excluded Layman only because it excluded the vehicle he was driving at the time of the accident. As in Transp Ins Co, [defendant’s] policy excluded acts or actions undertaken by Layman.” As such, and contrary to defendant’s argument, its policy “did not actually exclude Layman.” In addition, “[c]onsidering Layman had no obligation to insure the vehicle, and in the absence of any evidence that [he] sought to take over his mother’s and father’s insurance policy” summary disposition for plaintiff was warranted. Thus, because he was the named insured only on his policy with defendant at the time of the accident, defendant “was first in order of priority, under MCL 500.3114 to reimburse payment of” his benefits. Further, by paying Layman’s benefits, plaintiff “was protecting its own interests and not acting as a volunteer.” It was thus entitled to subrogation. Finally, defendant presented no reason that the court should reform the policy issued by plaintiff. Affirmed.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Litigation (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    This summary also appears under Contracts

    e-Journal #: 76381
    Case: Haqqani v. Brandes
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Shapiro, Borrello, and O’Brien
    Issues:

    Motion to enforce a settlement agreement; “Offer” & “acceptance”; Kloian v Domino’s Pizza LLC; Mutual assent; Clark v Al-Amin; Contract to make a contract; Attorney fees; The “American Rule”

    Summary:

    Holding that the parties did not reach an agreement on material terms and thus, that no contract was formed as to the proposed settlement, the court reversed the trial court’s order granting plaintiffs’ motion to enforce a purported settlement agreement. It also reversed the award of attorney fees to plaintiffs as there was no “identifiable source” permitting the trial court do so. The case arose from a real property dispute. The court determined that an email from defendants’ counsel to plaintiffs’ counsel constituted an offer, but plaintiffs’ counsel’s response was not an acceptance as it “was not in strict conformance with the offer and did not manifest an intent to be bound by the offer as presented[.]” Plaintiffs contended that the offer was accepted, focusing only “on the phrase ‘the settlement offer is accepted[.]’” However, the court concluded that “the additional explanation included in the response of plaintiffs’ counsel makes clear that the acceptance was not in ‘strict conformance’ with the offer as required to form a contract.” Plaintiffs’ counsel’s alleged acceptance “included the proviso that there was no settlement agreement unless a ‘fully executed document in recordable form withdrawing the 5th modification to the declaration of restrictions and acknowledging that the original declaration of restrictions (not including the permanent easements) expired in 1999’ was actually obtained.” It was clear from the email exchanges “that ‘fully executed’ meant that the document was signed and agreed to by” two non-parties (H and U). The court found that an “objective view of the express words in the parties’ emails reveals that plaintiffs’ attorney wanted a guaranteed result regarding the agreement of [H] and [U] and the obtainment of a fully executed and recordable document, while defendants’ attorney only offered to attempt to secure this result; thus, there was never a meeting of the minds on these terms, regardless of what each may have subjectively believed.” As a result, there was no contract. The court added that disclaimer language about “establishing a contract by email that was included in the email of plaintiffs’ attorney also belies the claim that a contract was formed.” Further, as to attorney fees, no “statute, court rule, or valid contract permitting” this award was identified. Remanded.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Negligence & Intentional Tort (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 76387
    Case: Rugg v. Divina
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Shapiro, Borrello, and O’Brien
    Issues:

    Auto negligence; Causation; Ray v Swager; Cause in fact; Patrick v Turkelson; Whether limitations affected plaintiff’s general ability to lead her normal life

    Summary:

    The court concluded that even if plaintiff suffered from a serious impairment of body function due to her torn rotator cuff, defendants were entitled to summary disposition because the evidence did not establish a fact question as to causation. And it was that injury, not her non-shoulder injuries, that affected her general ability to lead her normal life. Thus, it affirmed summary disposition for defendants. It noted she failed to recognize “that causation, as an element of negligence, is separate from whether the claimant suffered a serious impairment of body function” and she did not address the trial court’s ruling on causation. No doctor had stated that her “torn rotator cuff was caused or worsened by the auto accident.” Further, she did not present “evidence of ‘a logical sequence of cause and effect.’ Following the accident, plaintiff did not report significant shoulder pain for many months, during which she continued to work as a housekeeper, and she has not provided any testimony that offers a logical link between her shoulder injury and the accident. She also identified many different dates of onset of her shoulder injury. In the absence of medical testimony or medical records or some other evidence showing the connection between the accident and the shoulder injury,” the court determined that the claim as to causation of this injury failed to rise above speculation. Plaintiff further contended on appeal that she “suffered cervicalgia or a neck strain from the auto accident.” However, assuming the accident caused her cervicalgia, the trial court did not err in concluding “that it was her shoulder injury that affected plaintiff’s ability to lead her normal life. Plaintiff testified that she was forced to stop her housekeeping business in [12/18], and she was unequivocal that her shoulder injury was the reason why she could no longer work[.]” In addition, even if post-accident changes in her recreational and volunteer activities were caused by her overall injuries, the court could not find “that limits on these occasional activities, standing alone, are significant enough to affect plaintiff’s general ability to live her normal life.”

    Full Text Opinion

  • Termination of Parental Rights (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 76414
    Case: In re Hamilton/Smith
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Murray, Jansen, and Riordan
    Issues:

    Termination under §§ 19b(3)(c)(i) & (g); In re JK; Children’s best interests; MCL 712A.19b(5); In re Schadler

    Summary:

    Holding that the trial court did not clearly err in finding that §§ (c)(i) and (g) supported termination and that it was in the children’s best interests, the court affirmed the order terminating respondent-mother’s parental rights. It noted as an initial matter that she failed to challenge the trial court’s finding as to § (c)(i) and thus, this ground alone was sufficient to support termination here. It further concluded that even if she had done so, the trial court did not clearly err in terminating her rights based on § (c)(i). “The conditions that led to the adjudication involved medical neglect, improper supervision, prior history with CPS, and substance abuse.” The DHHS offered evidence that those conditions “continued to exist for several months, and that there was no reasonable likelihood that the conditions would be rectified within a reasonable time considering the children’s very young ages.” There was evidence that respondent did not “complete and benefit from individual therapy, a substance abuse assessment, a parent partner or parent coach, and infant mental health services.” She also did not maintain a legal income, or “submit to more than 90 of over 100 required random drug screens despite knowing that missed screens were considered positive screens.” While she did complete psychological and psychiatric evaluations, “she failed to benefit from them. Respondent also failed to visit the children on 81 out of 142 scheduled parenting time visits.” As to § (g), the DHHS’s initial intervention here “was warranted because respondent maintained an unsafe and neglectful household for her children” – i.e., she did not provide them with proper care and custody. “To address these concerns, between 2018 and 2020, respondent received numerous referrals for individual therapy and substance abuse therapy, but she was dismissed from all but the last individual therapy referral for failure to follow through.” She testified that she failed to do so “because she had ‘so much stuff to do.’” As to the children’s best interests, she also had a "history of domestic violence; respondent’s partner, with whom she was living, allegedly brandished a gun at her and shot at the tires of” her car. The court found there was little evidence that maintaining her “parental rights would be in the children’s best interests, given her inability or unwillingness to display sufficient parenting skills and maintain a safe, stable household environment.”

    Full Text Opinion

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