Whistleblower Protection Act will not protect a worker fired for reporting suspected future violations (but public policy might)

Employees looking for job security under the Whistleblowers’ Protection Act (WPA) will have to look elsewhere if they report a suspected future violation but have no reason to suspect an existing or past violation has occurred, according to the Michigan Supreme Court in Pace v. Edel-Harrelson, No. 151374.  According to the court, such reports fail to qualify as “protected activity” under the WPA.  It remanded to the Court of Appeals, however, for consideration of the plaintiff’s claim that the discharge violated public policy, explaining that because the WPA does not apply, it does not preempt the public policy claim.  To read our previous post about the Court of Appeals decision, click here. Read More

COA: Michigan Indian Family Preservation Act Not Unconstitutionally Vague

The Michigan Court of Appeals held, in In re E.M. England, No. 327240, that the Michigan Indian Family Preservation Act (MIFPA) is not unconstitutionally vague.  MIFPA requires a trial court to conclude that active efforts have been made to provide remedial services and rehabilitative programs designed to prevent the breakup of an Indian family prior to terminating parental rights of an Indian child.  The Court further held that that the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) met the heightened standard required to terminate the Respondent’s parental rights, and affirmed the trial court’s termination of parental rights.
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COA – Municipality allowed to treat water service arrearages as a lien and place them on municipality’s tax rolls

By reading three statutes, which all relate to the collection of monies for water services, together as a one law, the Court of Appeals held that a municipality could place water service arrearages on the municipality’s tax rolls in NL Ventures VI Farmington, LLC v. City of Livonia, No. 323144.  The trial court erred in reading MCL 141.101, et seq., MCL 123.161 et seq., and Livonia Ordinances, § 13.08.010, et seq. as separate, unrelated statutes.  Because these statutes “provide mechanisms for the collection for water services that have been rendered but where payment . . . has fallen into arrears,” they had to be read as one law.  Accordingly, the City of Livonia (the “City”) was permitted to place the water service arrearages of NL Ventures VI Farmington, LLC (“NL Ventures”) on the municipality’s tax rolls.  Further, the Court concluded that NL Venture’s claims against the City for tortious interference and civil conspiracy were shielded by governmental immunity because the City was engaged in a governmental function in collecting water charges. Read More

MSC directs COA to consider viability of post-judgment interest on offer-of-judgment sanctions

The Michigan Supreme Court in Lech v Huntmore Estates Condo Association, No. 151943, vacated the portion of the Court of Appeals’ opinion holding that statutory judgment interest under MCL 600.6013 does not apply to an award of offer of judgment sanctions, and remanded the case for reconsideration. Read More

MSC grants MOA to consider scope of the No Fault Act's parked-car exclusion

In Spectrum Health Hospitals v Westfield Insurance Co, No. 151419, the Michigan Supreme Court granted mini-oral argument on the application for leave to appeal to consider whether Miller v Auto-Owners Ins Co, 411 Mich 633 (1981), remains a viable precedent in light of Frazier v Allstate Ins Co, 490 Mich 381 (2011), and LeFevers v State Farm Mut Auto Ins Co, 493 Mich 960 (2013). Read More

COA – Be careful when you impugn the character of a nonparty in the course of discovery because you could be liable for defamation

To overcome the judicial proceedings privilege defense to a claim of defamation, a plaintiff must prove that the statement was irrelevant and immaterial to the matter being litigated, the Court of Appeals held in Lawrence v Burdi, No. 322041.  In so holding, the Court further noted that a discovery request that criticizes the character of a nonparty who is not an eyewitness to the case is neither relevant nor material to a property dispute. Read More

Due process concerns may necessitate public funding for expert witnesses in parental termination proceedings, says the COA

In In re Yarbrough Minors, Nos. 326170 and 326171, the Court of Appeals held that in parental termination proceedings, parents may be entitled to funding for an expert witness.  To properly make this determination, the Court noted, a trial court must apply the due process balancing test established in Mathews v Eldridge, 424 US 319; 96 S Ct 893; 47 L Ed 2d 18 (1976). Read More

COA – A live power line on the ground is more dangerous than one in the air making an injury caused by a downed line more foreseeable

An injury to a person is far more foreseeable when a live power line is on the ground rather than in the air, thus creating a genuine issue of material fact on whether a utility company owed the injured person a duty of care, held the Michigan Court of Appeals in In re Estate of Catherine Dawn Skidmore v Consumers Energy Company, No. 323757.     Read More

COA – False academic credentials issued by online university have no place in the State of Michigan

“Life Experience Degrees” issued by an online university based in the Caribbean violate the Michigan Authentic Credentials in Education Act (the “MACEA”), MCL 390.1601 et seq., an statute prohibiting “diploma mills,” according to the Michigan Court of Appeals in City of Fraser v Almeda University, No. 323499.  While the online school violated the Act, all but one of the Plaintiff’s claims ultimately were barred by the statute of limitations.  In addition, the Court held that the trial court correctly exercised its jurisdiction over the Defendant online university and the Defendant was subject to damages under the Act. Read More

COA: Requiring a personal representative to mail or personally serve herself with notice would be absurd

To comply with the requirements for asserting a claim against an estate that arose before the decedent’s death, the personal representative must file his or her claim within four months of the publication of notice, the Court of Appeals reasoned in In re Schwein Estate, No. 324305Read More
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