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March 22, 2017

MSC clarifies scope of trial on remand in light of its previous decision

In a March 16, 2017 Order, the Michigan Supreme Court held that in its previous decision in Hecht v National Heritage Academies, Inc, 499 Mich 586 (2016), it had not vacated the jury’s finding that plaintiff would not suffer future emotional-distress damages.  Accordingly, the Michigan Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s November 2016 order and granted the motion of National Heritage Academies (“NHA”) to define the scope of trial.
 
In its previous decision, the Michigan Supreme Court held that the because the Revised School Code provides full immunity from civil liability for the mandatory disclosure of a former-employee’s unprofessional conduct, such evidence has to be excluded at trial.  On the other hand, the Michigan Supreme Court concluded that National Heritage Academies could reasonably be found to have violated the Michigan Civil Rights Act.  Thus, the Supreme Court vacated the trial court’s award of future damages which was based on the mandatory disclosure and remanded for further proceedings.  The Michigan Supreme Court did not say anything about emotional-distress damages and that issue was not in front of the Court.
 
On remand the trial court ruled that when the Michigan Supreme Court vacated the jury’s future damages award, it silently overruled the jury’s denial of future emotional-distress damages.  NHA filed an application for leave to appeal to the Michigan Court of Appeals.  Leave was denied over a dissent.  Subsequently, NHA filed an application with the Michigan Supreme Court, which led to this order.  As the Michigan Supreme Court held, it had not silently overruled the jury’s emotional-distress damages decision.
 
Disclaimer:  Warner Norcross & Judd represented National Heritage Academies in this appeal.
 

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