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A Better Partnership
June 03, 2009

COA Opinion: Chen v. Wayne State University

On Tuesday, June 2, 2004, the Court of Appeals published its decision in Chen v. Wayne State University, Nos. 283470, 283575, which has been pending in the Michigan courts since 1997. In its published, per curiam decision, the Court of Appeals explained that where a Court of Claims case is consolidated with another civil case, the consolidated cases maintain their separate character for determining the time for filing an appeal. In Chen, the plaintiff's property claim in the Court of Claims was consolidated with his employment claims. The circuit court dismissed the plaintiff's property claims in an order entered a year before the trial court dismissed the plaintiff's employment claims. On appeal, the defendant claimed that the Court of Appeals lacked appellate jurisdiction over the plaintiff's appeal of the judgment on his property claims because the appeal was filed more than a year after the decision disposing of the claim. Under the Michigan Court Rules, if a party wants to appeal a judgment more than 21 days after the judgment is entered, the party must make an application for leave to appeal. Under the version of MCR 7.205 in effect at the time leave to appeal was granted, the plaintiff was required to make an application for leave to appeal within one year of the judgment. The plaintiff argued that because the cases were consolidated, the plaintiff was entitled to wait until after his employment claims were resolved before making appealing. The Court of Appeals rejected the plaintiff's argument, reasoning that the consolidated cases do not lose their separate nature because of consolidation. Accordingly, the Court of Appeals concluded that it lacked appellate jurisdiction over the plaintiff's appeal from judgment on his property claim.

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