e-Journal Summary

e-Journal Number : 72137
Opinion Date : 01/16/2020
e-Journal Date : 01/31/2020
Court : Michigan Court of Appeals
Case Name : Haan v. Lake Doster Lake Ass'n
Practice Area(s) : Contracts, Real Property
Judge(s) : Per Curiam – Markey and Beckering; Dissent - Murray
Full Text Opinion

Dispute over property owners’ rights in docks & boat moorings; Elements of a valid contract; AFT MI v. Michigan; Promissory estoppel; Zaremba Equip., Inc. v. Harco Nat’l Ins. Co.; Rights of non-riparian lot owners; Thies v. Howland; Easement; Little v. Hirschman; Dyball v. Lennox; Revocability of a license; Kitchen v. Kitchen; Ashley v. Waite; Winans Lake Hills Corp. v. Moon


Holding that the trial court erred by granting summary disposition for defendant-association and by denying plaintiffs-back lot owners’ competing motion for summary disposition, the court reversed and remanded for entry of judgment for plaintiffs. Plaintiffs sued defendant seeking to prevent defendant’s implementation of a dock plan, arguing defendant exceeded the scope of its authority by attempting to revoke and impair vested rights in plaintiffs’ respective docks and boat moorings. The trial court granted summary disposition for defendant, finding it “exclusively held all riparian rights in relation to the lake, which included docking rights.” On appeal, the court found that defendant “expressly agreed to allow appellants ‘to continue all past permitted rights of the’” property. In addition, “even assuming that the membership agreement is not a binding contract . . . the ‘past permitted rights’ provision would be enforceable under the doctrine of promissory estoppel.” The membership agreement “is a valid instrument concerning rights and interests in real property. To the extent that there is an argument that the ‘past permitted rights’ provision is unenforceable, it is wholly without merit.” In addition, “when requests by subdivision backlot owners to erect docks on [the lake] were approved, those owners acquired an easement interest or right in relation to erecting and maintaining their respective docks.” Moreover, the dock plan could not "be implemented without violating the ‘past permitted rights’ provision in the membership agreements.” Finally, although plaintiffs “remain subject to the bylaws, plat restrictions, and properly adopted rules and regulations,” defendant could not use "those authorities and mechanisms to essentially eviscerate and render meaningless its agreement to allow subdivision backlot owners to continue enjoying their past permitted rights to maintain their docks.”

Full Text Opinion