Become a mentor! The Mentor Center needs experienced attorneys to offer support & advice to young attorneys.

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summaries of opinions as they are released from the Michigan Supreme Court, Michigan Court of Appeals (published & unpublished), and selected U.S. Sixth Circuit.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

  • Administrative Law (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    This summary also appears under Healthcare Law

    e-Journal #: 76436
    Case: In re Proctor
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Markey, Beckering, and Boonstra
    Issues:

    Suspension of a license to practice medicine for two years; Whether the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA) provided protection from negative licensing actions; MCL 333.26424(g); Qualifying a physician witness as an expert; MRE 702; Whether competent, material, & substantial evidence supported the administrative law judge’s (ALJ) findings; Negligence; MCL 333.16221(a); Incompetence, & lack of “good moral character”; MCL 333.16221(b)(i) & (vi); MCL 333.16104(6); MCL 338.41; Failure to properly maintain medical records; MCL 333.16213(1); Due process; Foreseeability; Bureau of Professional Licensing, Board of Medicine Disciplinary Subcommittee (the Bureau); Standard of care (SOC)

    Summary:

    The court held that respondent-physician was not entitled to immunity under the MMMA, that the ALJ’s decision to qualify a physician witness (R) as an expert did not fall outside the range of principled outcomes, and that the ALJ’s findings were supported by competent, material, and substantial evidence. Thus, it affirmed petitioner-Bureau’s order suspending respondent’s medical license for two years. He “issued 21,708 medical marijuana certifications” in a 1-year period. The ALJ found he was negligent for failing to meet one of his patients (ML) “in person, failing to diagnose his conditions, and failing to plan for his continuity of care.” The ALJ further found him “incompetent for failing to conform to the [SOC] and consistently signing certificates for an extended period of time.” In addition, the ALJ determined he “lacked good moral character for issuing a high volume of certificates,” and that MCL 333.26424(g) did not apply. Finally, the ALJ found he failed to properly maintain medical records. As to respondent’s argument “he was not subject to licensing consequences pursuant to the MMMA[,]” the court noted that “MCL 333.26424(g) contains an explicit exception for violations of the” SOC. The ALJ determined that he “violated MCL 333.16221(a) (negligence) because” he failed to meet the applicable SOCs. Further, the “MMMA describes a full assessment for the purposes of a written certification as ‘a full assessment of the patient’s medical history and current medical condition, including a relevant, in-person, medical evaluation.’ . . . Both respondent and ML testified that they met through a video system.” The court further noted that R “opined that telemedicine was not sufficient because respondent could not test range of motion or conduct a neurological examination. [R] also opined that respondent acted below the [SOC] when he failed to diagnose ML, but respondent testified that a diagnosis was not necessary.” While he gave explanations for why he did not believe “tests or a diagnosis were necessary or appropriate, it was for the [ALJ] to determine his credibility and" weigh the evidence. R also “opined that continuity of care was part of the [SOC], and ML’s medical records did not include” such a plan as the onus was placed on ML “to follow up.”

    Full Text Opinion

  • Constitutional Law (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    This summary also appears under Election Law

    e-Journal #: 76498
    Case: Kowall v. Benson
    Court: U.S. Court of Appeals Sixth Circuit ( Published Opinion )
    Judges: Thapar, Gilman, and Nalbandian
    Issues:

    Term limits; Jurisdiction; Moore v McCartney; Challenges to term limits brought as candidates; Whether the claims had to be analyzed under the Anderson-Burdick framework; Citizens for Legislative Choice v Miller; Challenges to term limits brought as voters; State-law claims 

    Summary:

    [This appeal was from the WD-MI.] The court held that Michigan’s term limits for legislators, approved by Michigan voters, are constitutional where they are “rationally related to their purported goal: electing a citizen legislature.” Plaintiffs-legislators argued that term limits violate their ballot-access and freedom-of-association rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, and also violate the Michigan Constitution. The district court granted defendants summary judgment. After holding that it had jurisdiction over the case where it raised questions under the U.S. Constitution, the court considered plaintiffs’ claims as both candidates and voters. Regarding their claims as candidates, they argued that the limits prevented “experienced candidates from running for state legislative office.” The court first rejected their argument that their claims must be analyzed under the Anderson-Burdick framework, as are other election regulations, because “term limits are not state election laws.” Instead, they “are the state’s attempt to set qualifications for its officeholders.” It reasoned that instead of “keeping eligible candidates off the ballot[,] . . . term limits restrict eligibility for office.” The court declined “to apply heightened scrutiny, because candidates do not have a fundamental right to run for office.” It held that term limits pass rational-basis review. As voters, plaintiffs argued that their rights were violated where they were prevented from voting for experienced candidates. The court again applied rational-basis review, holding that “[j]ust as candidates have no fundamental right to run for office, voters have no fundamental right to ‘vote for a specific candidate or even a particular class of candidates.’” But it vacated the district court’s rulings on plaintiffs’ state-law claims as to whether the term-limit amendment was procedurally defective and whether it violated the Michigan Constitution’s Title-Object Clause, to allow the state courts to consider the issues. Affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Criminal Law (2)

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 76432
    Case: People v. Gruber
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Ronayne Krause, Cameron, and Rick
    Issues:

    Right to an impartial jury; Excusing jurors for cause; MCR 2.511(D); Exclusion of expert testimony in a child sexual abuse case; People v Peterson; People v Thorpe; Rights to present a complete defense & to confrontation; Exclusion of evidence about the victim’s prior abuse allegations; The rape shield statute (MCL 750.520j); People v Williams; Judicial misconduct; People v Stevens

    Summary:

    The court held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendant’s motion to excuse two potential jurors for cause, and that while it erred in excluding certain expert testimony, the error was harmless. Further, because he did not present “any concrete evidence” that the victim made prior false sexual abuse accusations, he failed to show that relevant evidence was excluded in violation of his rights to present a defense and to confrontation. Finally, the court rejected his judicial misconduct claim. Thus, it affirmed his convictions of CSC I, CSC II, and accosting a minor for immoral purposes. He asserted that potential juror SK should have been excused for cause (defense counsel used a peremptory challenge to remove her) “because she stated unequivocally that she could not be fair to defendant.” But the court concluded that her statements did not constitute “declarations that SK could not set aside her views.” Instead, they revealed her “hesitancy about the ‘subject matter.’” Thus, it found the trial court did not abuse its discretion in determining that SK’s ambivalence did not show “she was biased against defendant, or that she had firmly made up her mind about the case on the basis of her personal experience. SK’s statements that it would be ‘difficult’ stopped short of stating that she would not judge fairly,” and the court deferred “‘to the trial court’s superior ability to assess from a venireman’s demeanor whether the person would be impartial.’” As to the denial of the motion to exclude juror DE, while he “expressed concern about his impartiality, he ultimately stated that he would be able to evaluate the evidence without prejudice and according to the law.” The court noted that jurors are presumed impartial until shown otherwise, and defendant had the burden to establish DE was not impartial or that there was reasonable doubt whether he was so. The trial court found that DE could fairly judge the evidence, and the court again deferred to its assessment. The court held that defense counsel’s question to an expert “‘but it’s also true that kids do fabricate, correct?’ was a proper question that did not violate Thorpe.” But the trial court’s ruling precluding it was harmless where there was extensive testimony about “the victim’s credibility and her motivation to fabricate the allegations” and defendant offered other evidence that she “was not being truthful about” them.

    Full Text Opinion

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 76465
    Case: People v. McWherter
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Swartzle, Sawyer, and Letica
    Issues:

    Sufficiency of the evidence for a CSC II conviction under MCL 750.520c(1)(c) (sexual contact under circumstances involving the commission of another felony); Delivery; People v Waltonen; Other acts evidence; Prosecutorial misconduct; Improperly elicited testimony; Ineffective assistance of counsel; Failure to object or request curative instructions

    Summary:

    The court held that there was sufficient evidence defendant engaged in sexual contact with victim-OW under circumstances involving the delivery of marijuana to OW to support his CSC II convictions under MCL 750.520c(1)(c). However, it reversed his convictions due to improperly admitted other acts evidence and remanded for a new trial. He argued that there was insufficient evidence to sustain his convictions because the sexual contact did not occur under circumstances involving the felonious delivery of marijuana to a minor. The court held that while the direct interrelationship between the felony and the sexual contact was “not as explicit as in Waltonen, the jury could reasonably infer from the evidence that defendant gave OW the marijuana to facilitate the sexual contact. And although the sexual contact occurred after the felony, the jury could find that the sexual contact was directly related to the delivery of marijuana. Additionally, the jury could reasonably infer from defendant’s statement to OW that they would have ‘adult problems’ if she told anyone about the marijuana that defendant had intended the sexual assault when he gave the marijuana to OW.” As in Waltonen, “the evidence supported a finding that the delivery of marijuana was part and parcel of the sexual contact.” But the court noted that the evidence was not overwhelming and that while the jury found him guilty as to OW, it found him not guilty on charges involving another complainant. The “trial as to OW was a credibility contest between her and defendant and his supporting witnesses. OW testified that defendant sexually touched her after providing her with marijuana. Defendant denied providing OW with marijuana and sexually touching her. OW’s disclosure was delayed and the police found no evidence that defendant photographed OW as she had reported. If defendant’s guilt depends on determining witness credibility and an error contributes to the jury’s resolution of this credibility question, we are hard-pressed to conclude that the other-acts evidence did not affect defendant’s substantial rights or the fairness of the judicial proceedings, especially given the long-standing rules controlling the admission of evidence concerning a defendant’s prior arrest, conviction, and criminal history.”

    Full Text Opinion

  • Election Law (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    This summary also appears under Constitutional Law

    e-Journal #: 76498
    Case: Kowall v. Benson
    Court: U.S. Court of Appeals Sixth Circuit ( Published Opinion )
    Judges: Thapar, Gilman, and Nalbandian
    Issues:

    Term limits; Jurisdiction; Moore v McCartney; Challenges to term limits brought as candidates; Whether the claims had to be analyzed under the Anderson-Burdick framework; Citizens for Legislative Choice v Miller; Challenges to term limits brought as voters; State-law claims 

    Summary:

    [This appeal was from the WD-MI.] The court held that Michigan’s term limits for legislators, approved by Michigan voters, are constitutional where they are “rationally related to their purported goal: electing a citizen legislature.” Plaintiffs-legislators argued that term limits violate their ballot-access and freedom-of-association rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, and also violate the Michigan Constitution. The district court granted defendants summary judgment. After holding that it had jurisdiction over the case where it raised questions under the U.S. Constitution, the court considered plaintiffs’ claims as both candidates and voters. Regarding their claims as candidates, they argued that the limits prevented “experienced candidates from running for state legislative office.” The court first rejected their argument that their claims must be analyzed under the Anderson-Burdick framework, as are other election regulations, because “term limits are not state election laws.” Instead, they “are the state’s attempt to set qualifications for its officeholders.” It reasoned that instead of “keeping eligible candidates off the ballot[,] . . . term limits restrict eligibility for office.” The court declined “to apply heightened scrutiny, because candidates do not have a fundamental right to run for office.” It held that term limits pass rational-basis review. As voters, plaintiffs argued that their rights were violated where they were prevented from voting for experienced candidates. The court again applied rational-basis review, holding that “[j]ust as candidates have no fundamental right to run for office, voters have no fundamental right to ‘vote for a specific candidate or even a particular class of candidates.’” But it vacated the district court’s rulings on plaintiffs’ state-law claims as to whether the term-limit amendment was procedurally defective and whether it violated the Michigan Constitution’s Title-Object Clause, to allow the state courts to consider the issues. Affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Family Law (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 76442
    Case: Vanerdewyk v. Seiler
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Markey, Beckering, and Boonstra
    Issues:

    Motion for change of legal & physical custody; MCL 722.27(1)(c); Proper cause or a change of circumstances; Dailey v Kloenhamer; Pierron v Pierron; The statutory best-interest factors (MCL 722.23); Consideration of joint custody; MCL 722.26a(1); Fisher v Fisher; Judicial bias; Raise or waive rule

    Summary:

    The court held that the trial court’s findings as to the statutory best-interest factors were not contrary to the great weight of the evidence and it did not abuse its discretion in granting plaintiff-father sole legal custody of the parties’ child. The parties had joint legal and physical custody of the child before plaintiff moved to change both. After an evidentiary hearing, the trial court awarded him sole legal custody but left “the joint physical custody arrangement in place.” The court first noted that defendant-mother was mistaken that the principles set forth in Dailey did not apply “simply because the fact-specific disagreements and conflicts at issue in Dailey were not identical to those in this case. Here, there was evidence supporting the trial court’s findings that there had been an escalation of disagreements and conflicts and an increase in the lack of cooperation, which were largely being driven by defendant.” It further concluded that the trial court did not err in determining that best-interest factors (b), (g), (h), and (l) weighed in plaintiff’s favor, and that (k) did not apply. The trial court based its finding as to (h) on defendant’s failure to “share the child’s Chromebook or Zoom class times with plaintiff,” among other things. While she asserted “she gave plaintiff ample opportunity to obtain the Chromebook, the trial court was referring to the ‘initial issues’ regarding defendant’s unwillingness to share the Chromebook. And defendant does not challenge plaintiff’s testimony that she failed to share the Zoom schedule with” him. While she contended that (k) “should have favored her on the basis that plaintiff filed ‘nonstop custody motions, requested jail time and contempt,’ and ‘abuse[d] [her] through judicial harassment[,]’” the court noted that these actions did “not constitute ‘domestic violence.’” As to (l), it held that “the trial court’s reliance on the past contempt findings alone” supported its ruling. Finally, it found that defendant failed to preserve her judicial bias claim, and that it had no merit in any event. Affirmed.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Healthcare Law (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    This summary also appears under Administrative Law

    e-Journal #: 76436
    Case: In re Proctor
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Markey, Beckering, and Boonstra
    Issues:

    Suspension of a license to practice medicine for two years; Whether the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA) provided protection from negative licensing actions; MCL 333.26424(g); Qualifying a physician witness as an expert; MRE 702; Whether competent, material, & substantial evidence supported the administrative law judge’s (ALJ) findings; Negligence; MCL 333.16221(a); Incompetence, & lack of “good moral character”; MCL 333.16221(b)(i) & (vi); MCL 333.16104(6); MCL 338.41; Failure to properly maintain medical records; MCL 333.16213(1); Due process; Foreseeability; Bureau of Professional Licensing, Board of Medicine Disciplinary Subcommittee (the Bureau); Standard of care (SOC)

    Summary:

    The court held that respondent-physician was not entitled to immunity under the MMMA, that the ALJ’s decision to qualify a physician witness (R) as an expert did not fall outside the range of principled outcomes, and that the ALJ’s findings were supported by competent, material, and substantial evidence. Thus, it affirmed petitioner-Bureau’s order suspending respondent’s medical license for two years. He “issued 21,708 medical marijuana certifications” in a 1-year period. The ALJ found he was negligent for failing to meet one of his patients (ML) “in person, failing to diagnose his conditions, and failing to plan for his continuity of care.” The ALJ further found him “incompetent for failing to conform to the [SOC] and consistently signing certificates for an extended period of time.” In addition, the ALJ determined he “lacked good moral character for issuing a high volume of certificates,” and that MCL 333.26424(g) did not apply. Finally, the ALJ found he failed to properly maintain medical records. As to respondent’s argument “he was not subject to licensing consequences pursuant to the MMMA[,]” the court noted that “MCL 333.26424(g) contains an explicit exception for violations of the” SOC. The ALJ determined that he “violated MCL 333.16221(a) (negligence) because” he failed to meet the applicable SOCs. Further, the “MMMA describes a full assessment for the purposes of a written certification as ‘a full assessment of the patient’s medical history and current medical condition, including a relevant, in-person, medical evaluation.’ . . . Both respondent and ML testified that they met through a video system.” The court further noted that R “opined that telemedicine was not sufficient because respondent could not test range of motion or conduct a neurological examination. [R] also opined that respondent acted below the [SOC] when he failed to diagnose ML, but respondent testified that a diagnosis was not necessary.” While he gave explanations for why he did not believe “tests or a diagnosis were necessary or appropriate, it was for the [ALJ] to determine his credibility and" weigh the evidence. R also “opined that continuity of care was part of the [SOC], and ML’s medical records did not include” such a plan as the onus was placed on ML “to follow up.”

    Full Text Opinion

  • Termination of Parental Rights (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 76493
    Case: In re Hrymecki
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam - Swartzle, Sawyer, and Letica
    Issues:

    Termination under § 19b(3)(c)(i); In re Williams; Reasonable time; In re Dahms; Principle that incarceration cannot be the sole basis for termination; In re Baham; Best interests of the children; MCL 712A.19b(5); In re Olive/Metts Minors

    Summary:

    Holding that § (c)(i) was met, and that termination was in the child’s best interests, the court affirmed termination of respondent-father’s parental rights. His rights were terminated based primarily on his incarceration and corresponding inability to provide care for the child. On appeal, the court rejected his argument that the DHHS failed to prove a statutory ground for termination. “Multiple witnesses testified that they supported termination of [his] parental rights because [the child] needed permanence and stability.” In addition, it was “undisputed that more than 182 days elapsed between the initial dispositional order and the termination trial,” as required under § (c)(i). Further, the fact that he “may have attempted to provide for [the child’s] care does not change that he failed to do so.” The court also rejected his claim that termination was not in the child’s best interests. The child “did not have a strong bond with” respondent, and the child’s foster mother was not certain whether the child even understood that respondent was his biological father. “This problem was exacerbated by the fact that respondent” contacted the child only three times during the pendency of this case. “DHHS was unable to assess [his] parenting ability because of his incarceration, but even respondent . . . acknowledged that the foster parents had done an excellent job caring for” the child, who was very close with his foster family “and referred to his foster parents as mom and dad.” Finally, the caseworker and the child’s therapist each testified that termination was in the child’s best interests “because he needed permanence and finality, and the foster parents, who had been caring for” him for most of his life, were willing to adopt him.

    Full Text Opinion

Ads