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A Better Partnership
September 23, 2015

COA holds that court-appointed guardian ad litem is entitled to compensation for services rendered in tort litigation

In Doe v. Boyle, No. 320102, the Michigan Court of Appeals held that a guardian ad litem appointed by the court was entitled to compensation for his services and that the circuit court erred when it determined that the Department of Human Services (“DHS”) was not required to pay the guardian ad litem’s costs and expenses.
The Ingham Circuit Court appointed Thomas Woods as guardian ad litem for Thomas Hand, a 13-year-old minor and ward of the state, who was sued for allegedly sexually assaulting a 5-year-old.  Woods appeared on behalf of Hand in several actions related to the litigation. After a few months with no additional action, Woods filed a motion to recover his fees and costs from DHS, which was denied. Woods continued to act as Hand’s guardian ad litem until Hand reached the age of majority. Woods eventually appealed the circuit court’s denial of his request for fees and costs.
The Court of Appeals concluded that, because Woods was appointed guardian ad litem, he was entitled to compensation for his services pursuant to MCL 600.2415, which provides “no person who defends a suit as guardian ad litem of an infant or otherwise incompetent person shall be responsible for the costs of the suit unless specifically charged by the court for some personal misconduct in the case.” The court also referred to MCR 2.201(E)(1)(c) in clarifying that a guardian ad litem is not responsible for costs of the action. Finally, because Hand was a ward of the state of Michigan, the Court of Appeals concluded that DHS was responsible for payment of Woods’s expenses and costs. Therefore, the Court of Appeals reversed the circuit court’s order and remanded for a determination of the costs and expenses that Woods incurred as guardian ad litem for Hand.

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