COA holds that part of a facility may qualify for air pollution control tax exemptions but the State Tax Commission must seek MDEQ’s approval before granting such exemptions

The Michigan Court of Appeals in City of Sterling Heights v. Chrysler, No. 317310, held that a party may seek a tax exemption for air pollution control systems, and such systems need not be the purpose of the entire structure. Further, the Court held that before the State Tax Commission (“Commission”) grants an air pollution tax exemption, it must seek the approval of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (“MDEQ”). Read More

COA concludes that a party who prevails under the Revocation of Paternity Act may vacate a prior child support order

In Adler v. Dormio, No. 319608, the Court of Appeals held that a person who obtains a judgment under the Revocation of Paternity Act may seek relief from a prior support order under applicable Michigan Court Rules. Therefore, the Court of Appeals vacated and remanded the trial court’s order that denied defendant’s motion to vacate a child support order. Read More

MIFPA’s high standard for denying request to transfer adoption proceedings to tribal court may give tribes a second bite at the apple

According to the Court of Appeals, Michigan’s Indian Family Preservation Act (MIFPA) does not permit a circuit court to deny a request to transfer an Indian child custody proceeding to a tribal court based on the timeliness of the request or the effect the transfer may have on the child’s best interests despite the merit of these considerations.  As such, the Court reversed the circuit court’s denial of the tribe’s transfer request in In re Spears, No. 320584, even though the proceedings began back in 2010 and the tribe only submitted its request after the Michigan Children’s Institute failed to recommend the tribe’s preferred adoptive placement.
 
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COA clarifies distance calculations under Michigan’s 100 mile rule in child custody disputes

Michigan law provides that when parents share custody, one parent may not move more than 100 miles from the child’s legal residence at the commencement of the divorce action without obtaining either the consent of the other parent or court approval.  MCL 722.31(1).  In Eickelberg v. Eickelberg, No. 318840, the Court of Appeals held that for purposes of this rule, the distance of such a move should be measured starting from the child’s legal residence when the action for divorce is filed.  Read More

COA finds that trustees lack standing to sue for breach of contracts ancillary to a trust agreement

On April 25, 2012, the City of Pontiac’s emergency manager issued Executive Orders 206 and 207.  Those orders modified retiree healthcare benefits for the City’s firefighters and police, respectively.  In Board of Trustees of the City of Pontiac Police & Fire Retiree Prefunded Group Health & Insurance Trust v. City of Pontiac, No. 316680, the plaintiff board of trustees brought several claims against the City based on Executive Orders 206 and 207 for improperly reducing the healthcare benefits.  The trial court found the board’s claims meritless and granted summary disposition in favor of defendants.  The board appealed. Read More

COA holds guaranty actions and foreclosure actions are separate actions for the purposes of compulsory joinder and res judicata.

The Michigan Court of Appeals in Marketplace of Rochester Hills Parcel B LLC, v. Comerica Bank, No 31884, held that foreclosure proceedings and actions against guarantors under the same defaulted loan are not required to be filed in the same action under the compulsory joinder rule, nor will res judicata bar a later action under either claim. Read More

COA holds public employers have no duty to bargain over choice of healthcare contribution limit under new law

In Decatur Public Schools v Van Buren County Education Association, No. 320272, the Van Buren County Education Association and the Decatur Educational Support Personnel Association brought unfair labor practice charges against the Decatur Public Schools for failing to bargain over limits imposed on its contributions to employees’ health care costs under the Publicly Funded Health Insurance Contribution Act, 2011 PA 152, MCL 15.561 et seq.  The Court of Appeals affirmed a dismissal of the unfair labor practice charges and found that there is no duty for a public employer to bargain with each of its labor groups with regard to which choice of contribution limits it will select as provided for under the Act.  Read More

Trial court must have prosecutor's approval to sentence defendant to drug treatment court, if doing so requires a departure from the defendant's sentencing guideline range

In People v. Baldes, No. 320460, the Michigan Court of Appeals vacated defendant’s sentence and remanded for resentencing. In so doing, the court held that a trial court does not have power to admit a defendant to a drug treatment court program, when doing so departs downward from the defendant’s recommended sentencing guideline range, unless the prosecutor has agreed to the departure.
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COA upholds merit-based layoffs for teachers

Before 2011, teacher unions controlled the criteria used in making teacher layoff decisions.  By making seniority-based layoff plans the norm, unions ensured that length of service rather than merit would control which teachers retained their positions.  However, in 2011 the Michigan legislature enacted four pieces of tie-barred legislation mandating Michigan’s local school boards make layoff decisions based on merit and that a teacher’s sole and exclusive remedy would be to appeal the decision to the courts.  In the consolidated cases of Baumgartner v. Perry Public Schools, No. 313945, Aubert v. Reed City Area Schools Board of Education, No. 314158, and Wright v. Board of Education of the Flint Community Schools, No. 314696, the Court of Appeals upheld this legislation by finding the State Tenure Commission lacked jurisdiction to hear petitioner teachers’ improper layoff disputes. Read More
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