COA limits the scope of real estate transfer tax exemption

In the consolidated case of Gardner v. Department of Treasury, Nos. 315531, 315684 and 317171, the Court of Appeals addressed the applicability of a statutory exemption to the state's real estate transfer tax.  This exemption, found at MCL 207.526u, applies where (1) the principal residence exemption was claimed under MCL 211.7cc, and (2) the state equalized value (SEV) of the property at the time of sale was equal to, or less than, the SEV at the time of purchase.  That same statutory section, however, contains an exception to this exemption stating the seller will have to pay the tax (and potentially a penalty) if "the sale or transfer of property is found by the treasurer to be at a value other than the true cash value."  The Court looked to the annual property tax assessment process and interpreted "true cash value" as two times the property's SEV.  Thus, the majority opinion concluded that whenever a property is sold for more, or less, than two times the SEV, the seller will not be entitled to the transfer tax exemption. Read More

COA holds that Family Court may not order drug testing of parent of delinquent juvenile

In In re Dorsey, No. 309269, The Court of Appeals found that a family court violates the Fourth Amendment when it orders a parent to submit to drug testing in connection with juvenile delinquency proceedings, but denied relief to a mother held in contempt for violating such an order on waiver grounds. Read More

COA Distinguishes Between Federal and State Trademark Law Regarding Naked Licensing and Abandonment

In Movie Mania Metro, Inc. v. GZ DVD’S INC., No. 311723, the COA affirmed the trial court’s holding that a registered trademark holder engaged in naked licensing constitutes abandonment under the federal Lanham Act, but rejected the trial court’s holding that naked licensing also constitutes abandonment under Michigan’s Trademark Act. The COA further held that, although naked licensing does not constitute abandonment under Michigan law, naked trademarks are nevertheless invalid. Read More

COA clarifies procedure for changing child custody due to military service

Under Michigan law, courts are prohibited from filing a motion to change child custody "during the time a parent is in active military duty" unless there is clear and convincing evidence that a change is in the child's best interest. MCL 722.27(1)(c). In Kubicki v. Sharpe, No. 317614, the Court of Appeals clarified that a court is free to make a change if the request is filed before active military duty begins. But the court must consider the child's wishes according to MCL 722.31(4). Read More

COA holds that Cadillac's mayor cannot independently and finally fire a civil service commissioner under MCL 38.504

In Mayor of Cadillac v. Blackburn, No. 312803, the Michigan Court of Appeals held that: (1) circuit courts have original jurisdiction over disputed mayoral removals of civil services commissioners; and (2) the circuit court’s involvement in the process does not run afoul of the separation of powers in Michigan’s Constitution. Read More
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