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summaries of opinions as they are released from the Michigan Supreme Court, Michigan Court of Appeals (published & unpublished), and selected U.S. Sixth Circuit.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

  • Attorneys (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    This summary also appears under Family Law

    e-Journal #: 74332
    Case: Snead v. Snead
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Gleicher, K.F. Kelly, and Shapiro
    Issues:

    Divorce; Motion for reconsideration; MCR 2.119(F)(3); Failure to present new arguments or identify an error by which the trial court was misled; Motion for sanctions & attorney fees; MCR 1.109(E)(7) & 2.625(A)(2); MCL 600.2591(1); A frivolous clam or defense; MCL 600.2591(3)(a)(i)-(iii); Attorney fees in a domestic relations case; MCR 3.206(D); Requirement that a motion under the rule be brought within a reasonable time

    Summary:

    Holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendant-ex-husband’s motion for reconsideration or his motion for sanctions and attorney fees in this divorce case, the court affirmed. Since their divorce, “the parties have engaged in extensive postjudgment litigation including multiple motions regarding parenting time, custody and child support.” Relevant here, defendant moved to modify parenting time and his child support obligation. Plaintiff-ex-wife filed objections to the referee’s recommendation. Before the trial court’s de novo hearing, “defendant filed a verified motion for sanctions and attorney fees. [He] set forth a history of allegedly frivolous filings by plaintiff throughout the postjudgment litigation, including the most recent litigation concerning child support.” He contended that her objections to the referee’s recommendation as to child support were frivolous and attributed “two adjournments to plaintiff providing disorganized and incomplete financial information.” He sought sanctions and attorney fees under MCR 1.109, MCL 600.2591, and MCR 3.206(D)(2). The trial court heard the motion at the same “hearing at which it modified the referee’s child-support recommendation. After ruling on plaintiff’s objections to the referee’s recommendation, the court denied defendant’s motion for sanctions and attorney fees, finding that plaintiff’s objections were not frivolous.” Defendant then unsuccessfully moved for reconsideration, asserting that the trial court did not articulate a reason for denying his attorney fee request. The court noted that this motion “did not present new arguments or identify an error by which the trial court had been misled.” Thus, under the circumstances, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying it. The court also held that the denial of his initial motion for sanctions and attorney fees was proper, noting that “plaintiff’s objections to the referee’s findings resulted in relief, i.e., a reduction in her calculated income of over $13,000[.]” Further, the court found no error in the denial of attorney fees under MCR 3.206(D).

    Full Text Opinion

  • Election Law (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 74367
    Case: Whitmer v. Board of State Canvassers
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam - Murray, K.F. Kelly, and Stephens
    Issues:

    Petition seeking to recall the Governor; Const. 1963, art. 2, § 8; MCL 168.951(1); Submission of the petition to the Board of State Canvassers; MCL 168.951a(2); The Board’s duty to determine whether the petition’s language is clear & factual; MCL 168.951a(3); Standard of review for clarity; Donigan v Oakland Cnty Election Comm’n; Form; MCL 168.951a(1)(e); List of reasons for recall; MCL 168.951a(1)(c) & (3)

    Summary:

    Holding that appellee-Board of State Canvassers did not err by certifying the petition of appellee-Baase, who sought approval of a petition to recall appellant-Governor, the court affirmed. Baase submitted a recall petition for the Board to determine whether its language was clear and factual. At the hearing, appellant argued that the petition was not sufficiently clear because it “did not identify appellant in the petition’s reasons section, it contained a long run-on sentence, and its descriptions of the orders were vague, ambiguous, and did not include the exceptions or exemptions in the executive orders.” The Board determined that the petition factually and clearly stated the reasons for recall. On appeal, the court rejected appellant’s argument that “the Board applied an incorrect standard by giving Baase’s petition the benefit of the doubt when it determined whether the reasons for the recall were sufficiently clear.” It noted that the Board’s “apparent acceptance of a Board member’s opinion that the Board ‘should give the benefit of the doubt to [Baase],’ and that the voters would be able to understand the petition because it was ‘factually clear,’ was not the application of an incorrect standard.” It also rejected her claim that the petition was not sufficiently clear because it did not separately identify her “as the official to be recalled in the reasons area of the petition, and that the Board exceeded its power of review by considering the” heading. The court concluded that the “Board did not err by considering the entire form when approving the petition.” The court further noted that, even if Baase’s petition was ungrammatical, “the law does not require a petition to be drafted with perfect grammar; the law only requires the petition to be sufficiently clear.” The Board did not err by declining to reject the petition “on the basis that its technical execution was not perfect.” Finally, the court rejected her argument that the petition misrepresented the executive orders because the summary statements did not describe their exceptions and exemptions. “MCL 168.951a(1)(c) does not apply to the executive order descriptions because they are not legislation.” Moreover, while Baase’s summaries did “not include all possible exceptions and exemptions, his descriptions were not false or misleading.”

    Full Text Opinion

  • Family Law (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    This summary also appears under Attorneys

    e-Journal #: 74332
    Case: Snead v. Snead
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Gleicher, K.F. Kelly, and Shapiro
    Issues:

    Divorce; Motion for reconsideration; MCR 2.119(F)(3); Failure to present new arguments or identify an error by which the trial court was misled; Motion for sanctions & attorney fees; MCR 1.109(E)(7) & 2.625(A)(2); MCL 600.2591(1); A frivolous clam or defense; MCL 600.2591(3)(a)(i)-(iii); Attorney fees in a domestic relations case; MCR 3.206(D); Requirement that a motion under the rule be brought within a reasonable time

    Summary:

    Holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendant-ex-husband’s motion for reconsideration or his motion for sanctions and attorney fees in this divorce case, the court affirmed. Since their divorce, “the parties have engaged in extensive postjudgment litigation including multiple motions regarding parenting time, custody and child support.” Relevant here, defendant moved to modify parenting time and his child support obligation. Plaintiff-ex-wife filed objections to the referee’s recommendation. Before the trial court’s de novo hearing, “defendant filed a verified motion for sanctions and attorney fees. [He] set forth a history of allegedly frivolous filings by plaintiff throughout the postjudgment litigation, including the most recent litigation concerning child support.” He contended that her objections to the referee’s recommendation as to child support were frivolous and attributed “two adjournments to plaintiff providing disorganized and incomplete financial information.” He sought sanctions and attorney fees under MCR 1.109, MCL 600.2591, and MCR 3.206(D)(2). The trial court heard the motion at the same “hearing at which it modified the referee’s child-support recommendation. After ruling on plaintiff’s objections to the referee’s recommendation, the court denied defendant’s motion for sanctions and attorney fees, finding that plaintiff’s objections were not frivolous.” Defendant then unsuccessfully moved for reconsideration, asserting that the trial court did not articulate a reason for denying his attorney fee request. The court noted that this motion “did not present new arguments or identify an error by which the trial court had been misled.” Thus, under the circumstances, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying it. The court also held that the denial of his initial motion for sanctions and attorney fees was proper, noting that “plaintiff’s objections to the referee’s findings resulted in relief, i.e., a reduction in her calculated income of over $13,000[.]” Further, the court found no error in the denial of attorney fees under MCR 3.206(D).

    Full Text Opinion

  • Insurance (2)

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 74327
    Case: Covenant Med. Ctr., Inc. v. Farm Bureau Mut. Ins. Co. of MI
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Markey, Meter, and Gadola
    Issues:

    Entitlement to double damages under 42 USC § 1395y (part of the Medicare Secondary Payer Act (MSPA)); MSPA Claims 1, LLC v Kingsway Amigo Ins Co (11th Cir.); John Hancock Prop & Cas Ins Cos v Blue Cross & Blue Shield of MI; § 1396y(B)(2)(B)(iii); § 1395y(b)(3)(A); Estate of McDonald v Indemnity Ins Co of N Am. (WD KY); ¶¶ (1) & (2)(A) of § 1395y(b); Davita, Inc v Marietta Mem’l Hosp Employee Health Benefits Plan (6th Cir.); Private cause of action under the MSPA; Humana Med Plan, Inc v Western Heritage Ins Co (11th Cir.); Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM)

    Summary:

    Concluding that the trial court did not resolve whether defendant-no-fault insurer failed to provide primary payment or appropriate reimbursement under the MSPA, and double damages could not be imposed without such a determination, the court vacated the trial court’s order requiring defendant to pay plaintiff-healthcare provider $53,223.55, and remanded. It directed the trial court on remand to determine whether a genuine issue of material fact existed as to “(1) whether the amount allegedly not reimbursed to BCBSM is compensable under defendant’s no-fault policy, and (2) whether defendant failed to provide primary payment or appropriate reimbursement under the MSPA.” This dispute arose from plaintiff’s claim that it was entitled to double damages from defendant under §1395y of the MSPA. Plaintiff claimed that defendant failed to timely pay plaintiff for medical expenses incurred by defendant’s insured, and also failed to reimburse BCBSM for certain amounts BCBSM paid plaintiff on the insured’s behalf. On appeal, defendant argued that the trial court erred by granting plaintiff’s summary disposition motion because defendant did not fail to make primary payment to plaintiff or to reimburse BCBSM within the meaning of the MPSA. The trial court determined that defendant was a primary plan and that the amount of damages at issue was $53,223.55, but it “did not find that defendant had failed to provide primary payment to plaintiff or appropriate reimbursement to BCBSM.” It also failed to “determine whether the amount that defendant allegedly failed to reimburse to BCBSM was a compensable amount owed by defendant under the no-fault policy. Simply being a primary plan did not conclusively establish that defendant was responsible for reimbursement of all payments made by Medicare; rather defendant is only responsible to reimburse BCBSM for amounts arising from its obligations under its no-fault policy.” As to plaintiff’s claim that it was entitled to double damages because defendant’s payment was not timely, § 1395y(b)(3)(A) “provides for recovery of double damages when a primary payer fails to pay or reimburse, but does not provide for double damages for tardy payment.”

    Full Text Opinion

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 74361
    Case: Westfield Ins. Co. v. Cole
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam - Jansen Fort Hood, and Ronayne Krause
    Issues:

    Declaratory judgment seeking to rescind an insurance policy based on misrepresentations & omissions; Bazzi v Sentinel Ins Co; “Material” misrepresentation; Oade v Jackson Nat’l Life Ins Co of MI; Recission; Lake States Ins Co v Wilson; Rosenthal v Triangle Dev Co; Titan Ins Co v Hyten; “Motor vehicle liability policy”; MCL 257.520(a); Multiple vehicles; MCL 257.520(b)

    Summary:

    The court held that summary disposition against defendants-named insured (Cole) and additional insured (Wilson) was proper based on misrepresentations made in the insurance application process, but that remand was required as to defendant-driver (Williams). Thus, it reversed and remanded for the trial court to grant summary disposition for plaintiff-insurer as to Cole and Wilson, and to determine whether the same is appropriate as to Williams on the basis of the equities. After defendants were injured in an accident involving both of the insured vehicles, plaintiff sought to rescind the insurance policy based upon “the numerous misrepresentations and omissions committed by Cole during the application process.” The trial court granted plaintiff partial summary disposition, finding Cole made a material misrepresentation in her application because the two cars were not solely owned by and registered to her, holding as a matter of law that plaintiff would not have issued the policy as to the Crown Victoria because it was co-owned by Wilson. As to the Dodge Charger, however, it could not find as a matter of law that plaintiff would have refused to insure it. As such, it ordered reformation of the insurance policy to rescind coverage for the Crown Victoria but not for the Charger. On appeal, the court agreed with plaintiff that the material misrepresentations made in the application for insurance rendered the policy voidable in its entirety with respect to Cole and Wilson. However, it noted that “plaintiff concedes that this matter should be remanded for the trial court to determine whether rescission of the contract is appropriate as to Williams, who was by all accounts, innocent of the misrepresentations made by her codefendants.” Summary disposition against Cole and Wilson “is proper because no genuine issue of material fact exists regarding their innocence with respect to the misrepresentations made in this case, nor whether plaintiff would have issued the policy in question had it been aware of the same.” However, the trial court “should balance the equities as they pertain to plaintiff and Williams, an innocent third party, and determine within its discretion whether plaintiff is entitled to rescind the contract as it pertains to Williams.”

    Full Text Opinion

  • Litigation (3)

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 74331
    Case: American Door Sys., Inc. v. Fiore
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam - Gleicher, K.F. Kelly, and Shapiro
    Issues:

    Request for an evidentiary hearing; Whether the request was forfeited; Kernen v Homestead Dev Co; Waiver; People v Carter; Sulaica v Rometty; Effect of a settlement agreement; MCR 2.507(G); Clark v Al-Amin

    Summary:

    Holding that the trial court erred by denying appellants-homeowners’ request for an evidentiary hearing, the court vacated the order of dismissal and remanded for an evidentiary hearing to determine the extent to which each party complied with their settlement agreement. Appellants purchased doors and windows from appellee, but withheld a portion of the amount due, challenging the quality of appellee’s workmanship. The parties eventually reached a settlement under which appellee would make repairs and appellants would pay an agreed-upon amount pending approval of the work by the parties’ experts. The parties still could not agree, and appellee filed a motion to enforce the settlement. The trial court ultimately ordered appellants to pay out the agreed-upon sum, denied their request for an evidentiary hearing, and dismissed the case. On appeal, the court rejected appellee’s argument that appellants either forfeited their claim of error because they failed to request an evidentiary hearing before the trial court reached its decision, or waived any error by stipulating to the final judgment. Appellants “did not wait until after the court proceeding to seek a hearing. Rather, [they] requested an evidentiary hearing when the court entertained [appellee’s] motion to enforce the settlement agreement, immediately after the court ordered [appellants] to release the funds held in escrow.” In addition, appellants “were very clear in this case that they approved the order as to form only, acknowledging that the order embodied the” trial court’s ruling. The court then found that the trial court abused its discretion by denying appellants’ request for an evidentiary hearing and ordering them to release the funds held in escrow. “[O]n the existing record the [trial] court could not fairly determine if [appellee] had met its end of the bargain, triggering [appellants’] duty to release the escrowed funds.” In addition, “neither side presented any evidence useful to resolving the dispute.” The court concluded that although “the terms of the settlement agreement itself did not demand an evidentiary hearing, absent record evidence that [appellee] hired an expert as required, coupled with the competing unsupported arguments about the sufficiency of the repairs, the [trial] court had no reasonable option but to hold an evidentiary hearing.” It abused its discretion in failing to do so.

    Full Text Opinion

    Full Text Opinion

    This summary also appears under Probate

    e-Journal #: 74326
    Case: In re Conservatorship of Asplund
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Sawyer, M.J. Kelly, and Swartzle
    Issues:

    Conservatorship dispute; Order authorizing the sale of the legally protected person’s home; Ability to appeal; Requirement that appellant be “aggrieved”; MCR 5.801(A); MCR 7.203(A)(2); Federated Ins Co v Oakland Cnty Rd Comm’n; Injury to a party or an interested person; In re Trankla Estate; Effect of an unsecured debt; Irwin v Meese; Effect of the possibility of inheriting an interest in the property

    Summary:

    In this conservatorship dispute, the court held that respondent-Randall Apslund was not aggrieved by the probate court order to sell his mother’s (Roberta, a legally protected person) home and thus, it dismissed his appeal for lack of jurisdiction. It noted that after “the probate court appointed a conservator for Roberta, the conservator held title to all Roberta’s property—real and personal—as her trustee.” Petitioner, the successor conservator, sought authority from the probate court to sell the real property. “The probate court held a hearing and found that the price was appropriate under the circumstances and that the sale was in Roberta’s best interests.” Randall, an interested person under the applicable court rules, appealed the order as of right. The court noted that “there is an important limitation on an interested person’s ability to appeal: he or she must be ‘aggrieved’ by the order.” To be aggrieved, Randall had to show that he sustained some injury arising from the probate court’s action. He did not offer any “evidence that he had an ownership interest or other property rights in Roberta’s home;” he did not even assert any ownership interest in it. He did contend “that the estate owed him money, but an unsecured debt does not give Randall any rights in Roberta’s real property that would entitle him to stop its sale.” In addition, the fact that he might inherit an interest in her real property following her death did “not make him an aggrieved party because that interest is contingent on a future event.” The court noted that his “mere disappointment with the probate court’s decision to authorize the sale did not render him aggrieved by” that order. Under MCR 5.801(A) and 7.203(A), the court lacked jurisdiction to consider his appeal because he was not aggrieved by the challenged order. Dismissed with prejudice.

    Full Text Opinion

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 74342
    Case: Integrated Health Group, PC v. Integrated Health Sys., LLC
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – O’Brien, Beckering, and Cameron
    Issues:

    Dismissal & entry of a default as sanctions; Maldonado v Ford Motor Co; Swain v Morse; Cummings v Wayne Cnty; Consideration of the Vicencio v Ramirez factors; MCR 2.313(B)(2)(c) & 1.109(E)(6); Waiver; Integrated Health Group, PC (IHG)

    Summary:

    The court agreed that the misconduct allegedly committed by the individual plaintiff/counterdefendant (Dr. Huraibi) qualified “as the type of conduct for which a trial court, in the exercise of its inherent authority, would have discretion to sanction a litigant by dismissing a complaint or by entering a default.” But it vacated the order dismissing the third amended complaint and entering a default on the countercomplaint because the trial court failed to weigh all the relevant factors before imposing these sanctions. The court remanded for further proceedings and retained jurisdiction. The complaint “alleged several claims arising from an agreement to form a ‘super medical practice.’” Two of the defendants filed a countercomplaint against Huraibi and plaintiff-IHG “seeking injunctive relief and an accounting, and alleging” breach of contract and other claims. Early in the case, several “highly inflammatory and harassing e-mails were sent anonymously to counterplaintiffs, to counterplaintiffs’ members and agents, and to other individuals and entities with whom” they did business. After a hearing, the trial court determined that Huraibi was responsible for the “e-mails and had committed perjury both in his deposition and in affidavits filed with the trial court. As a result,” it dismissed his third amended complaint and entered a default against him as to the countercomplaint. The court found that his “alleged conduct arguably impaired counterplaintiffs’ ability to pursue redress against [him] and to defend themselves against any legal action initiated by him or IHG.” But the record did not indicate that the trial court gave the required careful consideration to the Vicencio factors. While it may have considered the first factor, it failed to address “Huraibi’s history of complying with previous court orders, or the nature and extent of the prejudice to counterplaintiffs flowing from the harassing e-mail campaign and” his alleged perjury. There was no indication from its “ruling how the harassing e-mail campaign, or Dr. Huraibi’s statements in his affidavits and deposition disavowing any involvement in sending the e-mails, impaired counterplaintiffs’ ability to defend against allegations in the third amended complaint, or to pursue their counterclaims against” him and IHG. It also failed to “consider whether a less drastic sanction would serve the interests of justice” here.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Probate (2)

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 74336
    Case: In re Beaird Estate
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Stephens, Sawyer, and Beckering
    Issues:

    Testamentary capacity; In re Mardigian Estate; MCL 700.2501(2); Burden of proof; 700.3407(1)(c); Whether decedent’s reference to his daughter by a prior married name in the will reflected a lack of capacity; Undue influence; In re Langlois’ Estate; In re Fay’s Estate

    Summary:

    The court affirmed the probate court order dismissing appellant’s petition to set aside the decedent’s 2018 will and admit his 2003 will and to set aside certain ladybird deeds, for failure to create a genuine issue of material fact. The question before the court was “not the likelihood of appellee prevailing on the substance of the dispute, but whether appellant has offered sufficient evidence to avoid summary disposition.” As to her “brief quotation from a medical record, that record was created 12 weeks before the decedent executed the will. And it merely references an assessment of the decedent while in the hospital.” Not only did the quoted passage “fail to establish whether the decedent had testamentary capacity at the time that he was in the hospital, it certainly does not establish whether, even if he lacked capacity at that time, he still lacked capacity 12 weeks later.” Appellant overlooked “an important principle, namely, that there is no rule that capacity once lost is lost forever. That is why the court must always look to the testator’s capacity at the time the will is executed, not whether there was a lack of capacity at some other time.” Moreover, she did “not point to any evidence to suggest that the hospital’s evaluation of decedent’s competency during his hospitalization is relevant to any of the statutory factors for determining capacity to execute a will. That is, without more, the mere conclusion in the hospital report that decedent was incompetent would provide limited assistance to determining whether decedent lacked capacity to execute a will while in the hospital at that time, much less 12 weeks later.” As for the information provided by appellant’s friend, Y, it was equally unhelpful. It merely provided Y’s “lay observation and opinion of decedent’s condition while in the hospital.” It was of no assistance in judging his capacity 12 weeks later. While the use of a prior married name that appellant had not used in 12 years “may reflect some confusion by decedent,” it nonetheless reflected that he knew “she was his daughter. That is, he knew that she was a natural object of his bounty and the will reflects his decision to disinherit her.”

    Full Text Opinion

    Full Text Opinion

    This summary also appears under Litigation

    e-Journal #: 74326
    Case: In re Conservatorship of Asplund
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam – Sawyer, M.J. Kelly, and Swartzle
    Issues:

    Conservatorship dispute; Order authorizing the sale of the legally protected person’s home; Ability to appeal; Requirement that appellant be “aggrieved”; MCR 5.801(A); MCR 7.203(A)(2); Federated Ins Co v Oakland Cnty Rd Comm’n; Injury to a party or an interested person; In re Trankla Estate; Effect of an unsecured debt; Irwin v Meese; Effect of the possibility of inheriting an interest in the property

    Summary:

    In this conservatorship dispute, the court held that respondent-Randall Apslund was not aggrieved by the probate court order to sell his mother’s (Roberta, a legally protected person) home and thus, it dismissed his appeal for lack of jurisdiction. It noted that after “the probate court appointed a conservator for Roberta, the conservator held title to all Roberta’s property—real and personal—as her trustee.” Petitioner, the successor conservator, sought authority from the probate court to sell the real property. “The probate court held a hearing and found that the price was appropriate under the circumstances and that the sale was in Roberta’s best interests.” Randall, an interested person under the applicable court rules, appealed the order as of right. The court noted that “there is an important limitation on an interested person’s ability to appeal: he or she must be ‘aggrieved’ by the order.” To be aggrieved, Randall had to show that he sustained some injury arising from the probate court’s action. He did not offer any “evidence that he had an ownership interest or other property rights in Roberta’s home;” he did not even assert any ownership interest in it. He did contend “that the estate owed him money, but an unsecured debt does not give Randall any rights in Roberta’s real property that would entitle him to stop its sale.” In addition, the fact that he might inherit an interest in her real property following her death did “not make him an aggrieved party because that interest is contingent on a future event.” The court noted that his “mere disappointment with the probate court’s decision to authorize the sale did not render him aggrieved by” that order. Under MCR 5.801(A) and 7.203(A), the court lacked jurisdiction to consider his appeal because he was not aggrieved by the challenged order. Dismissed with prejudice.

    Full Text Opinion

  • Termination of Parental Rights (1)

    Full Text Opinion

    e-Journal #: 74343
    Case: In re Benson
    Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
    Judges: Per Curiam - Jansen, Fort Hood, and Ronayne Krause
    Issues:

    Appointment of a juvenile guardian; MCL 712A.19a(9)(c); Whether a guardianship is in the children’s best interests; In re TK; Termination of jurisdiction without a hearing; MCL 712A.19a(12); MCR 3.979(C)(1)(a); Review hearing; MCR 3.975; MCR 3.979(C)(2)

    Summary:

    The court held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by appointing a juvenile guardian for respondent-father’s children, and that the appointment was in the children’s best interests. In addition, although the trial court erred by terminating its jurisdiction without a hearing, the guardianship did not need to be set aside. However, remand was required to conduct the hearing. The trial court appointed the children’s paternal aunt as their juvenile guardian based primarily on respondent’s substance abuse issues. It then terminated its jurisdiction. On appeal, the court rejected respondent’s argument that the trial court abused its discretion by appointing a juvenile guardian because it was not in the children’s best interests, and that they should have been returned to his care. “Given respondent’s extensive history of drug abuse and his failure to take accountability for past positive screens, the trial court admitted that it did not trust [his] ‘sobriety’ and surmised [he] had missed those drug screens because he would have tested positive for something.” In addition, the aunt was able to provide the children “a sense of permanency, finality, and stability” that respondent could not, and “was willing to continue to facilitate a relationship between the [] children and respondent while [they] were in her care.” It also rejected his claim that the guardianship should be set aside because the trial court terminated its jurisdiction without a hearing. However, because its failure to conduct the hearing was erroneous, it remanded “for the limited purpose of conducting a review hearing under MCR 3.975, at which point the trial court could properly terminate its jurisdiction.” Affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded.

    Full Text Opinion

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