COA considers whether certain claims in a church dispute are barred by the religious protections of the First and Fourteenth Amendments

The Michigan Court in the consolidated cases of Pilgrims Rest Baptists Church v. Pearson, SR., No 318797 and Pilgrims Rest Baptists Church v. Mayfield, No. 319571 held that in cases dealing with a religious entity, (i) claims for conversion are justiciable  (ii) employment claims against a church are non-justiciable, and (iii) claims involving membership and property rights of members of a church board of directors may be justiciable if the issues do not involve the interpretation of religious doctrines and religious polity. Read More

COA holds that trial court lacks authority to dismiss criminal charges unless defendant remains incompetent to stand trial for full statutory 15-month period

In People v. Demond Earl Davis, No. 319436, the Michigan Court of Appeals held that under 330.2030(2), both the prosecution and defense have a right to present evidence regarding the defendant’s competency before the trial court makes a redetermination regarding the defendant’s competency to stand trial.  Further, pursuant to MCL 330.2034(1), a trial court lacks authority to dismiss criminal charges until and unless a defendant remains incompetent, despite treatment, for the full statutory 15-month period.  Here, because the prosecutor was denied the opportunity to present evidence about the defendant’s competency, and because the trial court failed to wait the requisite 15-month period before dismissing the charges, the trial court’s decision to dismiss charges was reversed, the charges were reinstated, and the case was remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
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Michigan Supreme Court upholds full privilege from discovery for reports created by peer-review committees in hospital investigations

To improve the quality of care provided in hospitals and reduce morbidity and mortality among hospital patients, the Michigan legislature passed MCL 333.21513(d), which imposes a duty on hospitals to create peer-review committees to candidly assess hospital practices.  To facilitate this type of assessment, the Legislature also passed MCL 333.20175(8) and MCL 333.21515, which shield the records, data, and knowledge collected for or by these peer-review committees from disclosure.  In Krusac v. Covenant Medical Center, Inc., No. 149270, the Michigan Supreme Court considered whether there existed an exception to this protection to allow for the discovery of objective facts contained within these reports.  Vacating the order of the trial court, the Supreme Court held that the statute does not contain such an exception and remanded the case for further proceedings. Read More

COA holds that trial court erred by charging defendant probation enhancement fee

In People v. Juntikka, No. 318300, the Michigan Court of Appeals held that MCL 771.3(2)(d) does not authorize trial courts to impose a probation enhancement fee. The defendant was sentenced to five years of probation for failing to register as a sex offender under MCL 28.729, and the trial court imposed a $100 probation enhancement fee. On defendant’s objection, the trial court noted that the fee went to pay for equipment for probation agents such as gloves and cell phones. MCL 771.3 provides that the court may impose costs as a condition of probation, but those costs “must be limited to expenses specifically incurred in prosecuting the defendant or providing legal assistance to the defendant and supervision of the probationer.”
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COA holds that trial court cannot order MSP to retest blood alcohol

In People v. Green, No. 321823, the Michigan Court of Appeals held that the trial court did not have statutory authority to order the Michigan State Police to retest a sample of blood collected from the defendant, who is charged with operating while intoxicated causing serious injury, MCL 257.625(5). The police took a sample of blood after the defendant hit a pedestrian while operating a motorcycle. The test conducted by the Michigan State Police revealed his blood alcohol level to be .092 grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood. The defendant moved to have the same vial of blood retested by the Michigan State Police, and the court granted the motion, reasoning that the challenge to the blood test was based on guidelines that had since been changed. On appeal by the prosecution, the court held that the statute allowing for independent testing of blood or urine samples taken from criminal defendants only applied to independent testing at the defendant’s expense, not retesting by the same analyst who tested the original sample.
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MSC confirms that courts must consider the best interest of the child before revoking an acknowledgement of parentage

Because an order revoking acknowledgement of parentage sets aside a paternity determination, the Michigan Supreme Court held in Helton v. Beaman, No. 148927, that a trial court must always determine the best interest of the child before entering such an order.  In doing so, the Court overruled In re Moiles, 303 Mich. App. 59 (2013), agreeing with the majority and concurring authors in Helton that In re Moiles wrongly held that no best interest determination was required. Read More

COA determines that Michigan’s Medicaid estate recovery program does not require notice of recovery upon Medicaid enrollment

In In re Keyes, No. 320420, the Court of Appeals held that the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) does not have to provide a Medicaid enrollee with notice of estate recovery unless that person actually applies for Medicaid eligibility. Therefore, the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s order granting summary disposition to the estate because the MDCH gave sufficient notice of recovery in this case. Read More

COA: MCR 2.405’s offer of judgment sanctions do not include appellate fees and costs nor are judgment sanctions entitled to statutory judgment interest

In Lech v Huntmore Estates Condo Ass’n, No. 320028, the Court of Appeals concluded that a party awarded offer of judgment sanctions under MCR 2.405 is not entitled to appellate attorney fees and costs.  The Court further concluded that statutory judgment interest under MCL 600.6013 does not apply to an award of offer of judgment sanctions.  Read More

COA holds that an affidavit of merit in a medical malpractice action is proper where it was reasonable to believe an expert is qualified to testify at trial at the time the affidavit was signed

In Jones v. Botsford Continuing Care Corp., No. 317573, the Court of Appeals held that a plaintiff in a medical malpractice action need only show that it reasonably believes an expert who signs an affidavit of merit is qualified to testify at trial and not that the expert is actually qualified to testify.  Therefore, the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s order granting defendants’ motion for summary disposition because it was reasonable for plaintiff to believe that its affiants were qualified to testify in this case.   Read More

COA considers alternative arguments in Galien Township school funding case and upholds its earlier decision

The Michigan Court of Appeals in Galien Township School District v. Department of Education and Superintendent of Public Instruction, No. 317739 considered Galien Township's alternative arguments that it did not consider in its original opinion decided in favor of the Michigan Board of Education. The Michigan Supreme Court remanded the case to the COA to decide the issues of procedural due process violations and violation of the best evidence requirement of MCL 388.1614. Read More
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