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October 14, 2016

Making up for Lost Time: Lost Vacation Time is Lost Income under the Crime Victim’s Rights Act

Defendants must pay their victims for lost accumulated sick, personal, and vacation time, the Michigan Court of Appeals recently held. In People v. Turn, No. 327910, the court interpreted Michigan law to provide victims with restitution after taking off time from work to recover from injuries.
 
In Turn, defendant repeatedly stabbed the victim in the side and back. As a result, the victim had to use 112 hours of his accumulated sick, personal, and vacation time to recover from his injuries. Victim’s employer, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), maintained a policy allowing employees to accumulate time off. Upon termination of employment, the MEDC would pay the employee for any accumulated time. Victim lost that accumulated time as he recovered from his injuries.
 
Michigan’s Crime Victim’s Rights Act, MCL 780.751 et seq, provides victims of a crime with reimbursement for “after-tax income loss suffered by the victim as a result of the crime.” The trial court interpreted “income” in this statute to include lost vacation time, considering the MEDC’s policy to pay for such time. The MEDC did pay victim for the hours he took to recover, but the trial court found that victim lost accumulated time “for its intended purpose or for monetary compensation.” The lost time therefore had economic value that entitled victim to further compensation. The Court of Appeals upheld the trial court, saying, “[Victim] was not compensated by his employer for the loss of his accumulated leave time even though that time had monetary value.” In that respect, victim is not being paid twice for the same time. The trial court’s ruling therefore stands, and defendant must pay victim for lost income according to the statute.
 

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