e-Journal Summary

e-Journal Number : 59356
Opinion Date : 02/24/2015
e-Journal Date : 03/16/2015
Court : Michigan Court of Appeals
Case Name : Benson v. Foster
Practice Area(s) : Personal Protection Orders
Judge(s) : Per Curiam – Beckering, Borrello, and Gleicher
Full Text Opinion

Issuance of a personal protection order (PPO) in nondomestic matters; MCL 600.2950a; Lamkin v. Engram; Burden of proof as to stalking (MCL 750.411h), aggravated stalking (MCL 750.411i), or posting messages through electronic medium without consent (MCL 750.411s); Hayford v. Hayford; Mootness; B P 7 v. Bureau of State Lottery; Credibility of witnesses; Brandt v. Brandt; Whether a trial court must comment on every matter in evidence; LaFleche v. Ybarra; A trial court's discretion to determine whether a PPO is being used inappropriately; Pickering v. Pickering


The court held that the trial court properly denied the respondent's motion to terminate the PPO against him. The petitioner obtained the PPO based on respondent's behavior, which included harassing him with his truck, running over his shrubs, threatening him, and shining floodlights into his house at night. The trial court denied respondent's motion, finding that his behavior constituted "a willful series of conduct that constituted stalking" and that "there was no doubt that petitioner felt harassed." It also found that petitioner was credible and respondent was not. On appeal, the court rejected respondent's argument that trial court erred in issuing and continuing the PPO, concluding that, based on his behavior, the fact that the petition was supported by numerous police reports related to some of the alleged acts, and the fact that petitioner felt "emotionally drained" and distressed, the trial court did not abuse its discretion. It also rejected his argument that the trial court should have granted his motion to terminate the PPO, finding that the complained-of acts "constituted multiple acts of unconsented contact with petitioner that caused emotional distress." After "considering the testimony at the hearings and after considering the PPO petition, the trial court did not clearly err in determining that respondent's acts constituted stalking, harassment, and unconsented contact that caused petitioner to suffer from emotional distress and did not abuse its discretion in denying respondent's motion to terminate the PPO." The court next rejected his claim that the trial court did not consider evidence of an alleged oral agreement pursuant to which respondent agreed to move his truck from blocking the road and petitioner agreed to move his stakes during one of their encounters. It noted that "nothing in the record" established that the trial court failed to consider the evidence, that respondent cited "no case or authority in support of" his position, and that his actions "constituted a sufficient basis for the trial court to grant and continue the PPO." Finally, it rejected his argument that petitioner merely sought the PPO to gain an advantage in a property dispute, holding that "the trial court was in the best position to determine the credibility of petitioner and his request for a PPO," and found that his "concerns were credible and were not merely used to gain an advantage in a property dispute based on its issuance and continuance of the PPO." Affirmed.

Full Text Opinion