e-Journal Summary

e-Journal Number : 42502
Opinion Date : 04/23/2009
e-Journal Date : 04/30/2009
Court : Michigan Court of Appeals
Case Name : Cavanaugh v. Smith
Practice Area(s) : Personal Protection Orders
Judge(s) : Per Curiam - Beckering, Talbot, and Donofrio
Full Text Opinion
Issues:

PPO prohibiting the respondent from stalking the petitioner and from "writing or communicating slanderous statements with petitioner's employer, community, & associates"; Whether the trial court complied with applicable statutes and court rules governing the issuance of a PPO; MCL 600.2950a(4); MCR 3.705(B)(6); MCR 2.613(A); Zdrojewski v. Murphy; Whether the trial court properly refused to hear respondent's motion to modify or terminate the PPO; MCR 3.707(A)(1)(b) and (2);  Whether the facts presented at the hearing established "stalking" (MCL 750.411h(1)(d)); Pickering v. Pickering; "Harassment" (MCL 750.411h(1)(c)); "Unconsented contact" (MCL 750.411h(1)(e)); "Course of conduct" (MCL 750.411h(1)(a)); Nastal v. Henderson & Assoc. Investigations, Inc.; Whether the PPO was improperly issued on the basis of or improperly enjoined constitutionally protected activity or conduct serving a legitimate purpose; Slanderous speech; Van Buren Charter Twp. v. Garter Belt, Inc.; Whether the PPO was impermissibly vague and ambiguous

Summary

While the trial court did not comply with MCR 3.705(B)(6) because it did not separately state in writing the specific reasons for issuing the PPO, and it erred in failing to hold a hearing on respondent's motion to modify or terminate the PPO, the court affirmed the PPO because it concluded appellate relief was unwarranted. The respondent appealed the PPO, which prohibited her from stalking the petitioner and from "writing or communicating slanderous statements with petitioner's employer, community, & associates." While she argued, inter alia, the trial court did not comply with MCL 600.2950a(4) because it did not state its reasons for granting the PPO at the hearing, the court concluded the trial court stated its reasons for issuing the PPO on the record and its explanation was sufficient to comply with the statute. While the trial court failed to comply with MCR 3.705(B)(6), a trial court's error in a ruling or order is not a basis for granting a new hearing or disturbing an order unless refusal to act appears to be inconsistent with substantial justice. The court held appellate relief was not merited because the trial court stated its reasons for issuing the PPO on the record, in respondent's presence. Under MCR 3.707(A)(1)(b) and (2), the trial court was required to hear respondent's timely motion to modify or terminate the PPO. However, the court again determined appellate relief was unnecessary because respondent raised in the appeal the same grounds for relief from the PPO she raised in her motion and the court concluded she did not establish a basis for modifying or terminating the PPO. The court held the admitted facts supported the trial court's determination "respondent engaged in a course of unconsented contact" and her admission petitioner threatened her with litigation if she persisted with her course of conduct indicated he felt threatened and distressed by her conduct. The court also held the trial court's order prohibiting "slanderous statements" was not so vague or ambiguous it was unenforceable. Affirmed.

Full Text Opinion