Under the public employment relations act (PERA), the failure of public employers to bargain with their employees’ representatives regarding the “terms and conditions of employment” constitutes an unfair labor practice. The calculation of retirement benefits is a mandatory subject of collective bargaining. In Macomb County v. AFSCME Council 25, in a 4-2 decision, the Michigan Supreme Court held that the Macomb County Retirement Commission did not commit an unfair labor practice when it refused to bargain over its decision to change the actuarial table used to calculate joint and survivor retirement benefits, and that the appropriate forum for challenging the refusal to bargain is the grievance and arbitration process pursuant to the parties’ collective bargaining agreements. The majority opinion, written by Chief Justice Young, reaffirmed that the scope of authority of the Michigan Employment Relations Commission in reviewing a collective bargaining agreement in the context of a refusal-to-bargain claim, where parties have agreed to a grievance or arbitration process, is limited to determining whether the agreement covers the subject of the claim.
In a dissenting opinion, Justice McCormack, joined by Justice Cavanagh, would conclude that the parties’ use of a specific formula for achieving “actuarial equivalence ” for 24 years amended the contract, and thus requires a return to the bargaining table before a unilateral change may be made to that intentional practice. Justice Viviano took no part in the decision of this case.
In Porter v. Hill, the Michigan Court of Appeals held that grandparents did not have standing to seek grandparenting-time when their deceased son’s parental rights terminated because of abuse. The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court and held that the Michigan Child Custody Act, MCL 722.27b(1), which provides that grandparents may seek grandparenting time if the “[t]he child’s parent who is a child of the grandparents is deceased,” does not allow parents of a person who is no longer a legal parent to seek grandparenting time. The court reasoned that someone who is a biological parent but not a legal parent is not a “natural parent” under the statute. The court also urged the legislature to clarify a provision of the Child Custody Statute that allows grandparents to seek parenting time in cases in which parental rights have been terminated for a stepparent adoption, rather than cases where parental rights were terminated because of abuse or neglect.
In lieu of granting leave to appeal, the Michigan Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals’ April 10, 2012 judgment and reinstated the trial court’s November 23, 2010 order in People v. Holt. In light of the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Florida v. Jardines, 133 S.Ct. 1409 (2013), the Michigan Supreme Court recognized that police may not employ drug-sniffing dogs in the curtilage of a defendant’s home without a warrant. Since police did not obtain a warrant before using dogs in Mr. Holt’s case, the evidence was properly suppressed by the trial court. Read more »
On Friday, the Michigan Supreme Court ordered the clerk to schedule oral argument on the application for leave to appeal in Acorn Investment Co. v. Michigan Basic Prop Ins. Ass’n. As we previously discussed, the Court of Appeals concluded that a case evaluation panel’s appraisal of a property loss pursuant to an insurance policy does not amount to a verdict for purposes of imposing case evaluation sanctions. In its order, the Supreme Court instructed the parties to address that issue again at oral argument. The parties may file supplemental briefs within 42 days, as long as such briefs are not simply restatements of their application papers.
In People v. Mitchell, the Michigan Court of Appeals held that the trial court committed reversible error when it denied the defendant’s request for a jury instruction on voluntary manslaughter, where there was evidence the defendant was provoked and the jury asked if it could convict on the lesser charge. Read more »
In Commerce & Industry Insurance Co. v. Department of Treasury, the Michigan Court of Appeals held that three assessments levied against Michigan-based insurers by New York law constituted “burdens” under the retaliatory tax, even though the insurers passed them onto the policyholders. This was because the assessments were charged to Michigan-based insurers doing business in New York irrespective of surcharges collected from insurance policyholders. Thus, such assessments can be included in the retaliatory-tax calculation. Read more »
The Michigan Supreme Court granted the application for leave to appeal in Miller-Davis Co. v. Ahrens Construction, Inc., limited to the issues: (1) whether the indemnification clause in the plaintiff’s contract with one defendant applies to this case; (2) if so, whether the plaintiff’s action for breach of that clause was barred by the statute of limitations; and (3) whether the plaintiff adequately proved that any breach of the indemnification clause caused its damages.
The Michigan Supreme Court granted the application for leave to appeal in Wurtz v. Beecher. The parties shall address: (1) whether the plaintiff suffered an adverse employment action under the Whistleblower Protection Act when the defendants did not renew or extend the plaintiff’s employment contract; and (2) whether the grant of the defendants’ motion for summary disposition was proper prior to the completion of discovery.
The Michigan Supreme Court granted leave to appeal in Madugula v. Taub. The parties shall include among the issues to be briefed: (1) whether claims brought under MCL 450.1489 are equitable claims to be decided by a court of equity; (2) whether the provisions of a stockholders’ agreement can create shareholder interests protected by MCL 450.1489; and (3) whether the plaintiff’s interests as a shareholder were interfered with disproportionately by the actions of the defendant-appellant, where the plaintiff retained his corporate shares and his corporate directorship. The Court invited the Business Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan and the Michigan Chamber of Commerce to file briefs amicus curiae.