MSC “draws the line” on the highway exception to governmental immunity

In Yono v. Department of Transportation, No. 150364, the Michigan Supreme Court held that a parallel parking area along a highway is not among the portions of a highway designed for vehicular travel.  Accordingly, parallel parking areas on public roads that are clearly designated as such do not fall within the statutory highway exception to governmental immunity. 
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COA: Question of fact existed as to whether title insurer participated in a fraudulent scheme with bank’s funds

In the consolidated cases of Bank of America v. Fidelity National Title Insurance Co., Nos. 311798, 312426, 313797, 316538, the Michigan Court of Appeals reversed the order granting summary disposition to Fidelity National Title Insurance Co. (FNTIC) regarding Bank of America’s (BOA) breach of contract claims.  The cases arose from allegations of mortgage fraud against BOA, resulting in BOA filing breach of contract claims against its title insurer, FNTIC.  FNTIC had previously issued closing protection letters that promised to indemnify BOA for any actual losses arising from fraud or dishonesty in handling BOA’s funds or documents.  The trial court granted summary disposition to FNTIC on BOA’s breach of contract claims in each underlying action.  Read More

MSC: A lien claimant who succeeds on a breach of contract claim may be a “prevailing party” entitled to attorney fees under the Construction Lien Act

According to the the Michigan Supreme Court in Ronnisch Construction Group Inc. v. Lofts on the Nine, L.L.C., No. 150029, a lien foreclosure claim and a claim for breach of the underlying construction contract are “integrally related” as the lien is but a means for enforcing payment of the debt arising from a breach of the contract.  Thus, a plaintiff who succeeds on a breach of contract claim is a “prevailing party” under the Construction Lien Act (“CLA”) and may be entitled to recover attorney fees even when the lien claim is not fully adjudicated. Read More

MSC grants mini-oral argument for application regarding termination of parental rights of cognitively impaired parent

In In re Hicks/Brown Minors, the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's termination of parental rights, finding that individualized accommodations were necessary where the parent at issue was cognitively impaired.  The Michigan Supreme Court has granted oral argument to determine whether to grant the application for leave to appeal that determination, and has ordered supplemental briefing regarding:  "(1) whether the respondent-mother made a timely request for accommodation of her disability in the service plan prepared by the Department of Health and Human Services; (2) whether the Department of Health and Human Services made “reasonable efforts to reunify the child and family,” as required by MCL 712A.19a(2), given the respondent-mother’s disability; and (3) whether the failure to provide a service plan that accommodates a respondent’s disability may be grounds for reversal of a termination of parental rights on appeal, under either the Americans with Disabilities Act or under the Probate Code, MCL 712A.19a(2), where there is no determination that the trial court erred in finding grounds for termination under MCL 712A.19b(3) or that termination was in the best interests of the children under MCL 712A.19b(5)." Read More

Valid but not clearly visible temporary license plate provides valid justification for traffic stop

Although a defendant has a valid temporary license plate, if the temporary plate is not clearly visible a police officer is justified in conducting a traffic stop of the vehicle.  In People v. Simmons (No. 331116), police conducted a traffic stop under these circumstances and the officer located a firearm during a subsequent consent search of the vehicle.  Defendant was charged with carrying a concealed weapon, possession of a firearm by a person convicted of a felony (felon-in-possession), possession of ammunition by a person convicted of a felony, receiving and concealing a stolen firearm, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony (felony-firearm), and operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license.  The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s grant of defendant’s motion to suppress, finding that the traffic stop was justified and therefore the physical evidence found in the car was validly obtained. 
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Only facts “admitted by the defendant” in court survive scrutiny under Lockridge

In another follow-up to People v. Lockridge, the Michigan Court of Appeals held that only facts admitted by the defendant to the court in a plea, in testimony, by stipulation, or in some other similar situation, or facts found by a jury, may be used to increase a defendant’s sentence.  In People v. Garnes, No. 324035, the trial court relied on facts defendant admitted to a police officer, but not admitted by the defendant in court, to impose a mandatory minimum sentence.  The Court of Appeals reversed the decision and remanded for resentencing, because the defendant’s statements, although admitted through the testimony of the police officer in court, were not “admitted by the defendant” to satisfy the requirements of Lockridge.  Judge Sawyer wrote separately, concurring only in the result of the Court of Appeal’s opinion.
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Tobacco Products Tax Act is clear and unambiguous

The Michigan Court of Appeals reversed a trial court holding that the Tobacco Products Tax Act is unconstitutionally vague and overbroad.  In People v. Assy, No. 326274, the Court of Appeals found that the statute, MCL 205.421 et seq., is unambiguous and provides people of ordinary intelligence reasonable notice of what is prohibited, the standard for determining that the statute passes constitutional muster.
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COA: Felony sentencing cannot be done by videoconference

The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that felony sentencing by videoconference is not permitted under MCR 6.006 and also is fundamentally unfair.  In People v. Heller, No. 326821, based on the faulty procedure for sentencing, the court remanded the case for resentencing at defendant’s option.
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Trial courts must look to mandatory statutory sentencing range for convictions of indecent exposure as a sexually delinquent person not the sentencing guidelines

According to the Michigan Court of Appeals, the sentencing requirements under MCL 750.335a(2)(c) for indecent exposure as a sexually delinquent person are now mandatory following a 2005 amendment, and the sentencing guidelines are now advisory following the Michigan Supreme Court decision in People v. Lockridge, so courts must use the sentencing requirements under MCL 750.335a(2)(c) when the two are in conflict.  In People v. Campbell, No. 3234708, the Court of Appeals remanded for resentencing when the trial court sentenced the defendant based on the sentencing guidelines.
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COA holds that DHHS is not statutorily required to grant hardship waivers for Medicaid costs

The Michigan Court of Appeals in In re Estate of Klein, No. 329715, stood by its earlier decision In re Clark, No. 320720 (unpublished, May 28, 2015) and held that if an estate wishes to take advantage of the home-of-modest-value hardship waiver for Medicaid expenses, it must apply for the waiver. There is no statutory waiver that automatically applies if an estate fits the requirements of the exception. Read More
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