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A trial court erred when it allowed plaintiffs to reopen a case and impose sanctions against defendants

Holding that the trial court erred by granting the plaintiffs-insurance companies' request to re-open the case and impose sanctions against the defendant-contractor's (Sebold) attorney, the court vacated and remanded. Plaintiffs paid claims following a fire that destroyed a multi-million dollar home. They then brought a subrogation action against Sebold and others alleging negligence and breach of warranty in the construction of the home. During the litigation, Sebold sought a variety of documents and records. The parties later agreed to limit the request. They eventually stipulated to dismissal of the action, but the affected parties motioned the trial court to re-open the case. It granted their request and ordered sanctions of $6,712.92 against Sebold's attorney. On appeal, the court first found that it had jurisdiction to address whether the trial court abused its discretion in both its initial sanction decision and its award of fees. It then held that the trial court abused its discretion in sanctioning Sebold's counsel for the document request that was served with the subpoena, noting that the parties "had agreed to substantially limit the type of documents" he was requesting, and that he had "revised the request to go back only three years prior" to the fire. It found these revisions "important because they both reveal the more limited nature of the request actually being made and the reasonableness of the requesting party's actions, which are important in evaluating whether the requests were sanctionable." Thus, "it was an abuse of discretion for the trial court to ignore what the parties had done since issuance of the subpoena in narrowing the accompanying document request. Although the original document request was the only document signed, a court should not ignore the parties efforts to reduce a discovery request, even when, as here, there is not complete agreement on the entire reductions." 

FAMILY LAW 83: A trial court can terminate a parent’s rights and permit a stepparent to adopt a child.

A trial court has discretion to terminate a parent’s rights and permit a stepparent to adopt a child when the conditions of MCL 710.51(6) are met. MCL 710.51(6)(b) requires the petitioner to establish that the other parent had the ability to visit, contact, or communicate with the children, and substantially failed or neglected to do so for a period of two years.

PROBATE 53: The trust agreement included an Incontestability Provision.

A settlor’s intent is to be carried out as nearly as possible. Generally, in terrorem clauses are valid and enforceable. However, a provision in a trust that purports to penalize an interested person for contesting the trust or instituting another proceeding relating to the trust shall not be given effect if probable cause exists for instituting a proceeding contesting the trust or another proceeding relating to the trust.

FAMILY LAW 82: Court stated it would terminate the personal protection order (PPO) after the parties present documentation of the initiation of the divorce proceedings.

However, the trial court concluded that these matters should, in fact, be in the province and the jurisdiction of the Family Division and in that respect, having issued a personal protection order, the Court stated it would terminate the personal protection order after the parties present documentation of the initiation of the divorce proceedings.

What to Do When Homeowners Insurance Denies Your Claim

Since 1955, homeowners insurance has helped owners protect their property and belongings against damages and theft. According to the Insurance Information Institute, over 93% of homeowners in the US have homeowners insurance coverage, paying around...

What to Look for in a Criminal Defense Attorney

Originally posted on 10/20/2017 If you are charged with a crime, you could face severe penalties that could include financial fines, public service, or even jail time. For those in the Michigan area, hiring an attorney experienced in...

PROBATE 51: Trust filed a petition to determine title to credit union account.

The probate court explained that the owners of the account are S and J. When S passes, J becomes the owner of the account. J is the one who had the authority to make the designation. Nowhere in any documents is there a designation by J that SJ be the owner -- or the beneficiary of the account. The designation made by his father was no longer binding because he was no longer the owner at the time J passed away.

Invoking Your Right to Remain Silent

Originally posted on 07/19/2017 While the “right to remain silent” represents one of your most inalienable rights, many people have a few misconceptions about how it works. Many people receive their understanding of this...

Arrests made by tracking cell phones may be illegal

Originally posted on 02/10/2017 Law enforcement agencies are always looking for an edge in fighting crime. As cell phones have become an indispensable part of life for many people, authorities have taken to using these devices to track...

Could I lose my job over a drunk driving arrest?

Originally posted on 01/20/2017 When potential clients ask us questions about criminal defense representation (particularly for drunk driving offenses) one of the most common is whether they will lose their job.  Naturally, this...

FAMILY LAW 77: Court awarded plaintiff sole legal custody; defendant was unwilling to work with plaintiff.

For joint custody to work, parents must be able to agree with each other on basic issues in child rearing including health care, religion, education, day to day decision making and discipline and they must be willing to cooperate with each other in joint decision making. If two equally capable parents are unable to cooperate and to agree generally concerning important decisions affecting the welfare of their children, the court has no alternative but to determine which parent shall have sole custody of the children.

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