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August 2015

Aug 2015
31
August 31, 2015

COA: Prisoners' equal protection rights are not violated when they are foreclosed from seeking monetary relief for their injuries under the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act

In the consolidated opinion of Doe v. Dep’t. of Corrections, Nos. 321013; 321756, the Michigan Court of Appeals held that it is not a violation of equal protection when prisoners are foreclosed from suing for damages under the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA).  The plaintiffs are seven, unidentified males who became imprisoned in the Department of Corrections (DOC) facilities. The plaintiffs brought suit under the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA), MCL 37.2101 et seq., claiming that they had been subject to sexual violence and harassment by adult male prisoners and female prison guards.  The defendants moved for summary disposition contending that plaintiffs failed to comply with MCL 600.5507(2), a provision of the Prisoner Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), requiring that a prisoner filing a lawsuit concerning prison conditions disclose the number of civil actions and appeals the prisoner previously initiated.  Furthermore, the defendants argued that the ELCRA, as amended, provides that a “public service” does not include a state or county correctional facility with respect to prisoners, and that this amendment to the ELCRA did not violate equal protections.  The trial court denied defendants’ motion for summary disposition, ruling that the ELCRA, as amended, was unconstitutional because it violated the equal protection clauses of the Michigan and United States Constitutions.

Aug 2015
31
August 31, 2015

COA: Unchallenged DNA evidence plus a reasonable belief that an individual may be the biological father of a child is enough to establish a mistake of fact under Michigan’s Revocation of Paternity Act

In Rogers v. Wcisel, No. 318395, the Court of Appeals held that uncontested DNA evidence plus some belief that an individual was the biological father at the time of signing the acknowledgment of parentage creates enough evidence sufficient to prove mistake of fact for purposes of revoking an acknowledgment of parentage under Michigan’s Revocation of Paternity Act, MCL 722.1431 et seq. Therefore, the Court concluded that the trial court committed clear error in not finding that defendant had established a mistake of fact.

Aug 2015
27
August 27, 2015

COA: trial court may only consider conduct occurring at the time of the criminal offense to score OV 7

In People v. Thompson, No. 318128, the Michigan Court of Appeals found that the trial court may only consider conduct occurring during the sentencing offense for purposes of scoring OV 7. Defendant Jackie Lamont Thompson pled no contest to one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC 1), MCL 750.520b(1)(b)(ii) and was sentenced to a prison term of 15-40 years. Defendant challenges the scoring of offense variable (OV) 7 pursuant to MCL 777.37, claiming that the trial court improperly considered conduct outside of the sentencing offense in its 50-point assessment under OV 7. 

Aug 2015
26
August 26, 2015

COA: Under MCL 600.2912d(2), plaintiffs may file AOM within 28 days of medical malpractice complaint where delay is due to defendants’ assurances

In Castro v. Goulet, No. 316639, the Court of Appeals concluded that MCL 600.2912d(2) tolls the two-year statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases for plaintiffs to file the required affidavit of merit (“AOM”) within 28 days of the complaint, irrespective of when the underlying motion is granted.  In addition, the court concluded that plaintiffs demonstrated good cause where they delayed filing an action based on defendants’ assurances that plaintiff’s condition was temporary and would improve.  Judge Wilder dissented.

Aug 2015
24
August 24, 2015

COA re-affirms presumption that municipal utility rates are reasonable

The Michigan Court of Appeals in Trahey v. City of Inkster, Nos. 320161; 324564 held that (1) there is a presumption that rate increases to utility services by municipalities are reasonable, and (2) an increase in a utility bill after a change in a utility meter is acceptable so long as the municipality can provide evidence that the utilities charged were actually used by the consumer.

Aug 2015
24
August 24, 2015

COA concludes that exemplary damages are not available in suits for libel unless claimant seeks a retraction

In a case centered upon claims of defamation, the Court of Appeals has held that exemplary damages may not be recovered unless the claimant specifically requested a retraction of the alleged libelous remark, in conformance with MCL § 600.2911(2)(b).  In Hope-Jackson v. Washington, No. 319810, the Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the trial court tolling the statute of limitations under MCL § 600.5855 and awarding $360,000 in damages under a theory of defamation per se but vacated the trial court’s award of $140,000 in exemplary damages as a finding of fact had been made that the claimant never sought a retraction of the defamatory remarks.

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