The State Boundary Commission lacked authority to divide liabilities between township and new city, says COA

Every now and then, territory is annexed from one municipality to another, or new cities and villages are born; when that happens, the State Boundary Commission is generally responsible for reviewing and approving these divisions of territory.  It is not, however, responsible for adjudicating the division of assets and liabilities that occurs by operation of law under the Home Rule City Act when a new city incorporates, according the Court of Appeals' recent decision in Sylvan Township v. City of Chelsea, No. 323663.  The Court further held that, under the Home Rule City Act, only the properties taxable for the liability at issue could be factored into the ratio for division.  Thus, because Michigan law prevented Sylvan from taxing territory inside the pre-existing Village of Chelsea for the bond-contract liability at issue, only the territory incorporated into the City from outside the village boundaries could be considered in determining the ratio for division. Read More

COA reaffirms that the framework established by Smith should be followed in determining the award of attorney fees

In Kennedy v. Robert Lee Auto Sales, No. 322523, the Michigan Court of Appeals held that the trial court erred when it arbitrarily ordered attorney fees and costs and failed to follow the framework established by the Michigan Supreme Court in Smith v. Khouri, 481 Mich. 519 (2008).  The Court of Appeals concluded that, the framework should be followed by the trial court in its determination of awarding attorney fees and costs to parties under the fee-shifting statutes involved in this particular case, namely, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (“MMWA”) and Michigan Consumer Protection Act (“MCPA”).  The Court of Appeals further noted that the Smith framework needed “some fine-tuning” and provided guidelines for the trial court to follow in its determination on remand. Read More

COA: Property owners association cannot use bylaws to impose new and expanded restrictions on a development without unanimous consent

In Conlin v. Upton, No. 322458, the Michigan Court of Appeals held that a property owners association cannot regulate properties through bylaws, unless the authority is derived from the original covenants and restrictions placed on the land.  Additionally, the association cannot authorize the imposition of new or expanded restrictions with less than unanimous consent. Read More

COA: In light of Obergefell, Equitable Parent Doctrine no longer limited to the confines of marriage as previously defined by Michigan Constitution and statutory law

In Stankevich v. Milliron, No. 310710, the Michigan Court of Appeals held that the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, 135 S. Ct. 2584 (2015), requires that Michigan recognize same sex marriage and therefore the Equitable Parent Doctrine extends to persons in same-sex marriages.  In so holding, the Court of Appeals concluded that the plaintiff had standing to seek the status of an equitable parent. Read More

COA affirms Michigan Public Service Commission’s orders setting rates for gas utilities

In the consolidated appeal of In re Application of Consumers Energy Company for Approval of a Gas Cost Recovery Plan, No. 322031, In re Application of Michigan Gas Utilities Corporation for Approval of a Gas Cost Recovery Plan, No. 322571, and In re Application of DTE Gas Company for Approval of Gas Cost Recovery Plan, No. 32432, the Michigan Court of Appeals held that the Michigan Attorney General did not prove, by clear and satisfactory evidence, that the orders issued by the Michigan Public Service Commission (the “Commission”), in each of three separate cases, were unlawful and unreasonable under MCL 462.26(8).
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COA: geographic cost of living variations do not justify deviation from Michigan Child Support Formula

In Narvaez Teran v. Rittley, No. 322016, the Court of Appeals held that a trial court may not, as a general rule, deviate from the Michigan Child Support Formula recommended child support on the basis of the general cost of living of where the parents and child reside.  Additionally, the court held that MCL 722.714(1) does not limit a court’s subject matter jurisdiction in a paternity action. Read More

COA: Sentences issued prior to Steanhouse’s “principles of proportionality” test subject to remand

In People v. Shank, No. 321534, the Michigan Court of Appeals remanded a sentencing order in light of its recent decision in People v. Steanhouse. In Steanhouse, which we blogged about here, the Court of Appeals held that trial courts should employ a “principle of proportionality” test when departing from an advisory guideline range. This new test requires that sentences be proportionate to the seriousness of the circumstances surrounding the offense and the offender. 
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MSC passes on consideration of wrongful discharge claim under Whistleblowers’ Protection Act

After full merits briefing and oral argument, the Michigan Supreme Court denied leave as improvidently granted in Landin v. Healthsource Saginaw, Inc, No. 149663.  The case involved the issue of whether a plaintiff may maintain a wrongful discharge claim for violation of public policy under MCL 333.20176a(1)(a).  In considering this issue, the Court had also asked the parties to address whether the Whistleblowers’ Protection Act provides the exclusive remedy for a claim of wrongful discharge under MCL 333.20176a(1)(a). Read More

MSC grants MOAA to consider scope of law firm's own arbitration clause

In Altobelli v. Hartmann, No. 150656, the Michigan Supreme Court scheduled mini-oral argument to address whether a mandatory arbitration clause in a firm’s operating agreement is applicable to claims directed at individual members rather than the entire firm. Read More

COA: Monthly charge collected by FOC from child and spousal support payments is not an unconstitutional taking nor does it violate substantive due process

In Trantham v. State Disbursement Unit, No. 322289, the Michigan Court of Appeals held that a $3.50 monthly charge collected by the Friend of the Court (“FOC”) pursuant to MCL 600.2538(1) does not violate the Takings Clause or substantive due process.  However, the court also noted that the portion of the fee constituting a tax could violate the Title-Object Clause and the Distinct-Statement Clause of the Michigan Constitution. Read More
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