COA affirms validity of an express exclusive easement appurtenant

In Penrose v. McCullough, No. 316435, the Michigan Court of Appeals held that an express, exclusive easement was valid because it ran with the land, and because the subsequent purchasers of the servient estate had constructive notice of the easement. Three parcels located in a subdivision in South Haven, lots 9, 10, and 11, were once owned by the same couple, but they sold one of the parcels. After the sale, the buyers attempted to grant the sellers an easement over another parcel they already owned, lot 6. The buyers and sellers both eventually sold their properties to other people. The court held that the easement failed as to one of the lots because the original buyers identified the grantee as “the title holder of Lots 9, 10, and 11” after they had already purchased lot 11. Common ownership of the parcel subject to the easement and the easement therefore extinguished the easement. Read More

COA recognizes that a mutual mistake of fact, though discoverable, is grounds for reforming a divorce decree

In Wolf v. Mahar, No. 310479, the Court of Appeals held that a mutual mistake of fact about the State of Michigan’s pension recoupment policy was sufficient to order reformation of a divorce judgment, despite the policy being easily available online. Read More

COA holds that trial court has discretion to order divorcing spouses to file joint tax returns

In a case of first impression in Michigan, The Michigan Court of Appeals in Butler v. Simmons-Butler, No. 321445, held that a trial court may compel parties to a divorce action to file a joint tax return when it is in the best interest of the marital estate. Read More

MSC interprets the definition of locality under Michigan’s Worker’s Disability Compensation Act

In Younkin v. Zimmer, No. 149355, the Michigan Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals and held that a trial court should not have issued a writ of mandamus ordering the Michigan Administrative Hearing System and Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) to hold a hearing within the same county where a worker’s injury was located. The Supreme Court then expanded the meaning of “locality” under the Worker’s Disability Compensation Act and interpreted the term as a district or definite region. Read More

COA holds that expert may testify in medical malpractice case if relevant board certification was in force at the time of the alleged malpractice

In Rock v. Crocker, No. 312885, the Michigan Court of Appeals held that in a medical malpractice case, under MCL 600.2169(1)(a), the plaintiff’s expert witness may testify because he was board certified in the same specialty as the defendant at the time of the alleged malpractice, although he had allowed his board certification to lapse. The plaintiff sued the defendant doctor for medical malpractice after he performed orthopedic surgery on his ankle and provided him with post-surgical care. Shortly before trial, the court excluded one of the plaintiff’s expert witnesses because he was no longer board certified in orthopedic surgery. The court also excluded any mention of the plaintiff’s receipt of no-fault insurance benefits connected with his injury, and denied defendant’s motion to “strike allegations of malpractice.” The Court of Appeals granted the defendant’s interlocutory application for leave to appeal, and the defendant cross-appealed. Read More

MSC denies reconsideration in IBM Multistate Tax Compact case

In July, the Michigan Supreme Court held that the Michigan Business Tax Act did not repeal the Multistate Tax Compact and that the Compact continued to govern taxation of multi-state tax payers.  (The One Court of Jutsice Blog opinion summary is available here.)  The State of Michigan moved for reconsideration, noting that the Court's 4-3 ruling could have a $1 billion negative impact on the State. Read More

COA holds that Due Process is violated when a party fails to give notice of intent to request default

Setting aside a default judgment in Michigan is governed by the Michigan Court Rules. The rules require a defendant to provide both evidence of good cause and the presence of a meritorious defense in order to set aside a default judgment. But in Brooks Williamson and Associates, Inc. v. Mayflower Construction Co., No. 317122, the Michigan Court of Appeals held that despite the plain language of MCR 2.603(D)(1), where it is shown that a party subject to default did not receive notice of his opponent’s intent to request a default judgment, the requirement that that party must also show a meritorious defense to set aside the default judgment constitutes a denial of the constitutional right to due process. Read More

COA: minority tolling statute does not toll SOL for purposes of No Fault one-year-back rule

The Michigan Court of Appeals in Linden v. Citizens Insurance Company of America, No. 312702, held that the minority tolling statute does not toll the statute of limitations for a minor making a personal injury protection (“PIP”) claim under the Assigned Claims Benefits statute of the No Fault Act. Read More

COA: car owners not entitled to PIP benefits when others maintain the insurance

Under MCL 500.3113(b) of the No-Fault Insurance Act, when none of the owners of a car maintains insurance on the car, no owner may recover personal injury protection (“PIP”) benefits. As such, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s order granting the defendant’s motion for summary disposition with respect to the plaintiff’s action for PIP no-fault insurance benefits in Barnes v. Farmers Insurance Exchange, No. 314621. Read More

COA applies common-interest doctrine to determine scope of work-product privilege

In D’Alessandro Contracting Group v. Wright, No. 317201, the Court of Appeals held that a party may share privileged work product with a third party if the party has a reasonable expectation of confidentiality in sharing that product, regardless of whether the third party may become an adversary in the future. Read More
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