Articles Posted in Michigan Supreme Court

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MCL 450.4515(1)(e) provided alternative statutes of limitations: one based on the time of discovery of the cause of action and the other based on the time of accrual of the cause of action. Plaintiffs were former employees of defendant ePrize who acquired ownership units in the company. Plaintiffs alleged founder Jeff Linkner orally promised them that their interests in ePrize would never be diluted or subordinated. In its fifth operating agreement, executed in 2009, ePrize stock issued in Series C and Series B Units carried distribution priority over the common units held by plaintiffs. The Operating Agreement further provided that if the company were ever sold, Series C Units would receive the first $68.25 million of any available distribution. In 2012, ePrize sold substantially all of its assets and, pursuant to the Operating Agreement, distributed nearly $100 million in net proceeds to the holders of Series C and Series B Units. Plaintiffs received nothing for their common shares. Plaintiffs thereafter sued, bringing claims for LLC member oppression, breach of contract, and breach of fiduciary duty. The trial court granted defendants’ motion for summary judgment, concluding that the three-year limitation period in MCL 450.4515(1)(e) constituted a statute of limitations, rather than a statute of repose, and that plaintiffs' claims accrued in 2009. The Court of Appeals disagreed, finding plaintiffs’ claims did not accrue until 2012, when ePrize sold substantially all of its assets, because until that sale plaintiffs had not incurred a calculable financial injury and any damage claim before that time would have been “speculative.” Accordingly, the Court concluded that plaintiffs’ claims were timely filed before the expiration of the three-year limitation period. The Michigan Supreme Court agreed with the trial court's reasoning: plaintiffs’ actions for damages under MCL 450.4515(1)(e) were barred by the three-year statute of limitations unless plaintiffs could establish on remand that they were entitled to tolling. View "Frank v. Linkner" on Justia Law

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In 2007, plaintiff Innovation Ventures, LLC engaged defendants Andrew Krause and K & L Development of Michigan (K & L Development) to design, manufacture, and install manufacturing and packaging equipment for the production of "5-Hour ENERGY" at Liquid Manufacturing’s bottling plant. The issue this case presented for the Michigan Supreme Court's review centered on whether agreements between sophisticated businesses were void for failure of consideration and whether the noncompete provisions in these agreements were reasonable. Innovation Ventures alleged a variety of tort and breach of contract claims against Liquid Manufacturing, LLC, K & L Development of Michigan, LLC, Eternal Energy, LLC, LXR Biotech, LLC, Peter Paisley, and Andrew Krause based on the defendants’ production of Eternal Energy and other energy drinks. Contrary to the determination of the Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court concluded that the parties’ Equipment Manufacturing and Installation Agreement (EMI) and Nondisclosure Agreement were not void for failure of consideration. The Court nevertheless affirmed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment to defendants for the claims against Krause, because there was no genuine issue of material fact on the question whether Krause breached the EMI or the Nondisclosure Agreement. Likewise, there was no issue on the question whether K & L Development breached the EMI. The Court concluded the Court of Appeals erred in failing to evaluate the noncompete provision in the parties’ Termination Agreement for reasonableness. The Court therefore reversed in part, affirmed in part, and remanded for consideration of those questions of fact remaining regarding whether K & L Development breached the Nondisclosure Agreement and whether Liquid Manufacturing breached the Termination Agreement with respect to its production of products other than Eternal Energy. View "Innovation Ventures, LLC v. Liquid Manufacturing, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Isabella County Prosecuting Attorney filed a complaint for a temporary restraining order, a show-cause order, a preliminary injunction, and a permanent injunction, seeking to enjoin the operation of Compassionate Apothecary, LLC (CA), a medical-marijuana dispensary that was owned and operated by Brandon McQueen and Matthew Taylor. McQueen was a registered qualifying patient and a registered primary caregiver for three qualifying patients under the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act (MMMA). Taylor was the registered primary caregiver for two qualifying patients. They operated CA as a membership organization. The prosecuting attorney alleged that McQueen and Taylor’s operation of CA did not comply with the MMMA, was contrary to the Public Health Code (PHC), and, thus, was a public nuisance. The court denied the prosecuting attorney’s requests for a temporary restraining order, a show-cause order and injunction, concluding that the operation of CA was in compliance with the MMMA because the patient-to-patient transfers of marijuana that CA facilitated fell within the act’s definition of the “medical use” of marijuana. The prosecuting attorney appealed. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded, concluding that defendants’ operation of CA was an enjoinable public nuisance because the operation of CA violated the PHC, which prohibits the possession and delivery of marijuana. Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded that the Court of Appeals reached the correct result because the act does not permit a registered qualifying patient to transfer marijuana for another registered qualifying patient’s medical use. Accordingly, the prosecuting attorney was entitled to injunctive relief to enjoin the operation of defendants’ business because it constituted a public nuisance. View "Michigan v. McQueen" on Justia Law

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Marcy Hill, Patricia Hill, and Christopher Hill brought an action against Sears, Roebuck & Co., Sears Logistic Services, Inc., Merchant Delivery, Inc., Exel Direct, Inc., Mark Pritchard, Timothy Dameron, and others, seeking to recover damages for injuries and property damage incurred when Marcy Hill released natural gas through an uncapped gas line and plaintiffs’ home burned down following Patricia Hill’s attempt to light a candle. Defendants were prior owners of the home and the parties who sold, delivered, and installed an electric washer and dryer purchased by Marcy Hill in 2003. Hill’s mother had directed the installers to place the washer and dryer in the same location where the prior owners’ gas dryer had been situated. The prior owners had turned off the gas to the line supplying their dryer, but had not capped off the line when they moved, taking their dryer with them. In 2007, four years after the electric dryer’s installation, during which time it had functioned without incident, Hill inadvertently opened the valve on the gas line. Marcy and Patricia Hill smelled gas throughout the day but did not act on this information, despite both women’s knowledge that the smell of natural gas required safety precautions. Plaintiffs’ home exploded that night when Patricia Hill attempted to light the candle with a lighter. Plaintiffs asserted that the installers had negligently installed the dryer and failed to discover, properly inspect, cap, and warn plaintiffs about the uncapped gas line. The court denied the retailers’, delivery companies’, and installers’ motions for summary judgment. The installers, Mark Pritchard and Timothy Dameron, appealed. The Court of Appeals affirmed. The retailers, delivery companies, and the installers filed separate applications for leave to appeal. Upon review of the matter, the Supreme Court concluded that the delivery and installation of the washer and dryer did not create a new dangerous condition with respect to the uncapped gas line or make an existing dangerous condition more hazardous. The hazard associated with the uncapped gas line was present when the installers entered the premises and when they left; the danger posed by the uncapped gas line was the same before and after the installation. Any liability of the retailers or the delivery companies would have resulted from their agency relationship with the installers. The circuit court erred by denying the summary judgment motions. The case was reversed and remanded for entry of an order granting defendants summary judgment. View "Hill v. Sears, Roebuck & Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Cedroni Associates, Inc. was the lowest bidder on a public contract. The issue before the Supreme Court was whether Plaintiff had a valid business expectancy for the purpose of sustaining a claim of tortious interference with business expectancy. The trial court held that Plaintiff did not have such an expectancy, but a divided appellate court held that a genuine issue of material fact existed in that regard. Because the Supreme Court agreed with the trial court and the Court of Appeals dissent that Plaintiff did not have a valid business expectancy, the Supreme Court reversed the appellate court's judgment and reinstated the trial court's order granting Defendant's motion for summary judgment. View "Cedroni Associates, Inc. v. Tomblinson, Harburn Associates, Architects & Planners, Inc." on Justia Law

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The issue before the Supreme Court in this case was whether a limitations period applied to an action for breach of a construction contract. The Court of Appeals held that the limitations period applied in this case, and that the statute's six-year limit expired before Plaintiff Miller-Davis Company filed its complaint. The appellate court reversed the judgment of the trial court that had awarded Plaintiff damages. Plaintiff argued on appeal to the Supreme Court that a different statute of limitations for breach of contract controlled, and the period prescribed by that statute was the applicable statute for this action. Upon review of the two statutes of limitations, the Supreme Court agreed with Plaintiff. The limitation in both statutes is six years, however, the period runs from "the date the claim first accrued." The Court reversed the appellate court's judgment because there was a question about the date Plaintiff's action accrued. The Court remanded the case for further proceedings.

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At issue in this case was whether the trial court abused its discretion when it concluded that Defendants Richco Construction, Inc. (Richco) and Ronald Richards, Jr. were personally notified of the default judgment against them and denied their motion to set aside that judgment. The suit arose from a contractual relationship between Plaintiff Lawrence M. Clarke, Inc. (Clarke) and Defendant. Clarke worked on a residential subdivision in 2003, and hired Richco as a subcontractor to work on the sewer system. Richco's work did not satisfy the local governing municipality, and after efforts to repair were unfruitful, Clarke contracted with another party to finish the work. Clark filed a breach of contract and fraud complaint against Richco. The process server attempted to serve Richco at its business address on file with the state, but Richco had vacated the premises and left no forwarding address. Clarke continued in its efforts to locate Richco and refiled its complaint. The trial court permitted alternative service through mailing notice to last-known addresses and a classified advertisement in the local paper. With no response, Clarke moved for a default judgment that the court granted. Upon review of the trial court record, the Supreme Court found that the trial court abused its discretion by finding that Richco was personally notified, and that Richco was entitled to relief from the default judgment. The Court reversed and remanded the case back to the trial court for further proceedings.

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This appeal challenged the small employer group health coverage act (Act), which establishes requirements for insurance carriers to offer health insurance benefit plans to small employers in Michigan. Priority Health sought a declaratory judgment from the Office of Financial and Insurance Services (OFIS) so that it could allocate a small portion of insurance premiumsâ costs to employers, lessening the financial burden on employees. Priority Health would not renew contracts with employers who did not agree to pay a portion of the premiums. Both the Court of Appeals and the Commissioner of the Office of Financial and Insurance Services (OFIS) concluded that âminimum employer contribution provisionsâ are inconsistent with the Act. They reasoned that an employerâs failure to pay a minimum percentage of its employeesâ premiums is not among the reasons in the Act that a carrier can use to refuse to renew an insurance plan. The Supreme Court disagreed with the appellate court and OFISâ interpretation of the Act. The Court found that just because the Michigan Legislature did not include an employerâs refusal to pay according to a minimum contribution provision as among the reasons for not renewing a contract for benefits, the [Priority Health] provision was unreasonable or inconsistent with the Act. In general, âunless a provision directly conflicts with the enumerated reasons [of the Act], it may be included in a plan so long as it is reasonable and not inconsistent.â The Court remanded the case to the OFIS for further proceedings.