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A Better Partnership
September 03, 2009

MSC Order List: September 2, 2009

On Wednesday, September 2, 2009, the Michigan Supreme Court denied four applications for leave to appeal and dismissed one application on stipulation of the parties. The Court also ordered the clerk to schedule oral argument to consider the application for leave to appeal in Lenawee County Board of Road Commissioners v. State Auto Property & Casualty Insurance Co., Case No 137667. A copy of the Court's order can be found here.

In Lenawee County Board, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint which added State Auto Property & Casualty Insurance Co. as a defendant. The claim asserted against State Auto Property concerned property protection benefits pursuant to MCL ' 500.3121. After it was added as a party, State Auto Property filed a motion for summary disposition in the trial court and argued that because Lenawee County failed to file suit against State Auto Property within the one-year statute of limitations, the claim failed as a matter of law. The trial court agreed and dismissed the claim against State Auto Property. Lenawee County filed an application for interlocutory appeal with the Court of Appeals. In this application, Lenawee County argued that the trial court erred in dismissing its claim against State Auto Property because under the relation-back doctrine, the addition of State Auto Property as a party in the amended complaint related back to the date of filing the original complaint, which had been filed within the one-year statute of limitations. In lieu of granting application for leave to appeal, the Court of Appeals denied Lenawee County's appeal for the reason that under Miller v. Chapman Contracting, 477 Mich. 102 (2007), the relation-back doctrine does not apply to the addition of new parties. All new parties must be added before the statute of limitations expires.

The Michigan Supreme Court granted oral argument on the application for leave to appeal and directed the parties to be prepared to address whether Miller was properly decided. Justices Corrigan and Young dissented. In his dissent, Justice Young pointed out that Miller was decided only 28 months ago, and stated that he considered it inappropriate to consider the validity of the Miller decision where neither party advocated for Miller to be overturned. Justice Cavanagh concurred with the majority but wrote separately to respond to Justice Young's dissent. In his concurrence, Justice Cavanagh noted that while he has advocated for judicial restraint in the past, he has never suggested that it is always inappropriate to overrule precedent.

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