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CONTRACTS 17: Defendant refused to pay plaintiff for outstanding invoices.

In approximately 2008, defendant engaged plaintiff to provide information technology (IT) services for defendant’s business. In 2018, the parties’ relationship soured after defendant refused to pay plaintiff for certain outstanding invoices.

This refusal led plaintiff to file a complaint against defendant. Plaintiff attached to its complaint an affidavit of the amount that defendant allegedly owed plaintiff as well as a copy of the account reflecting the amount that defendant owed plaintiff and served upon defendant the complaint with the affidavit and the account. Defendant did not attach to its answer an affidavit denying the account.

After a hearing on plaintiff’s motion, the trial court granted summary disposition in favor of plaintiff on both claims.

Condition Precedent

In every services contract, there exists an implied duty to perform in a diligent and reasonably skillful workmanlike manner. According to defendant, this duty was a condition precedent to the parties’ contract. The duty to perform services in a reasonably skillful and workmanlike manner is just that a duty. It is not a condition precedent.

Reasonableness

Defendant is not alleging that plaintiff engaged in some type of fraud. Instead, defendant is only alleging that plaintiff should have charged less for the jobs it completed. This is not a defense to defendant’s obligations under the contract to pay plaintiff for the time plaintiff spent completing IT services for defendant.

Plaintiff established defendant’s indebtedness to plaintiff, and the fact that plaintiff’s bills were excessive does not rebut that indebtedness. Defendant failed to present any evidence tending to establish that it did not agree to pay plaintiff for the services plaintiff provided, or that the amount that plaintiff claimed was owed was incorrect.

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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.

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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.

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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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