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A Better Partnership

January 2014

Jan 2014
16
January 16, 2014

Evidence of post-petition events may be admitted at trial to terminate parental rights

A mother's parental rights were properly terminated despite the fact that she was not served with an amended petition to terminate rights and evidence of post-petition events was introduced at trial. In In re Dearmon, the Michigan Court of Appeals concluded that the trial court properly had jurisdiction over the mother because she was personally served with the original petition, which sought to terminate her parental rights. The Court reasoned that once personal jurisdiction was established "it did not evaporate merely upon the filing of the amended petitions." Additionally, evidence of post-petition events was properly admitted at trial because the evidence was relevant to the question of whether the child was neglected and whether the mother's actions created an unfit environment for the children. The post-petition evidence included recorded conversations where the mother revealed she had not severed her relationship with her abusive boyfriend. The Court held that if "relevant to a fact of consequence flowing from that question [of neglect] and otherwise admissible, a fact-finder may consider evidence gathered after the events cited in the petition."

Jan 2014
16
January 16, 2014

Amendment to public school employees' future healthcare and retirement benefits was constitutional

The Legislature’s alteration of future healthcare and retirement benefit plans of public school employees for future services did not violate the Michigan or United States Constitutions. In AFT Michigan v State of Michigan, the Court of Appeals examined the Legislature’s amendment to the Public School Employees Retirement Act (MCL 38.1301 et seq.), which decreased the multiplier for certain future retiree benefits and required retirees to choose either to contribute 3% of their compensation to receive future healthcare benefits, or opt-out and receive no retiree healthcare benefits at retirement.  The Court concluded that the amendments did not unconstitutionally impair an existing contractual obligation and did not violate due process. 

Jan 2014
10
January 10, 2014

COA rules that “industrial processing exemption” to use tax applies to equipment used for both distribution and processing

In Detroit Edison Company v. Department of Treasury, the Michigan Court of Appeals considered whether a power company’s equipment situated outside of its plants—used for both distribution and processing—was subject to the Use Tax Act. The Court held that it was not because such dual-use equipment falls within the “industrial processing exception” of the statute. The Court also held that the Department’s rule to the contrary was invalid and unenforceable, as contrary to the statute.

Jan 2014
10
January 10, 2014

COA rules that religious beliefs should not be considered when deciding whether the avoidable-consequences doctrine applies

In Braverman v. Granger, the Michigan Court of Appeals held that the religious beliefs of a kidney-transplant patient should not be considered in applying the avoidable-consequences doctrine to the patient’s malpractice claim. A reasonable person would have accepted the life-saving blood transfusion; therefore, the avoidable-consequences doctrine barred the patient’s claim.

Jan 2014
03
January 03, 2014

COA enforces post-nuptial agreement because it was intended to save marriage

In a post-nuptial agreement, the parties agreed that a sailboat would be considered martial property. In Hodge v. Parks, the Court of Appeals enforced that agreement in dividing the couple’s assets, because the agreement was intended to preserve the parties’ marriage. The Court also considered several other property-division matters.

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