CONTRACTS 3: A contract provision providing for a shortened period of limitations is enforceable.

Plaintiffs owned a house in Michigan. On April 15, 2015, they entered into a one-year listing agreement with defendant, a licensed real estate broker to sell their house in exchange for a 5% sales commission. The house initially listed for $999,000.

In May 2015, a buyer made an initial offer of $910,000 through a real estate agent. Plaintiffs countered through Defendant with an offer to sell the home for $965,000, which the buyer rejected. The same buyer later made another offer, this time for $938,000. Plaintiffs countered with an offer to sell for $957,000, which the buyer rejected by failing to respond within the period specified.

According to plaintiffs, they learned on or about June 2, 2015, that the buyer had scheduled another walk through of the property. Also on June 2, that buyer’s agent allegedly informed Defendant verbally that the buyer intended to offer $950,000 for the property, but Defendant told buyer’s agent that plaintiffs had no interest in continuing to communicate with the Buyer. After the walk through, buyer’s agent purportedly telephoned Defendant with the $950,000 cash offer and followed up the phone call with a written offer via e-mail.

Defendant contends that buyer’s agent did not telephone Defendant with an offer, and asserts that Defendant did not see the written offer attached to buyer’s agent June 2, 2015 email. However, it is undisputed that Defendant did not relay the $950,000 offer to plaintiffs. The offer expired and the buyer purchased a different house in the area. Plaintiffs claim that they learned about the $950,000 cash offer weeks later through a phone call with a different agent.

The only other offer for the house prior to expiration of the listing agreement with Defendant came in September 2015 and was for $810,000. After the listing agreement expired on April 15, 2016, plaintiffs elected not to renew the agreement with Defendant; instead, they engaged a different agent, who eventually sold the house for $840,000.

On December 22, 2016, plaintiffs commenced an action to recover damages for the lost sale. They alleged breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, fraudulent misrepresentation, silent fraud, entitlement to exemplary damages, and other claims.

Defendants filed an answer, followed ten days later by a motion and supporting brief for summary disposition. They argued that plaintiffs’ claims were barred by the listing agreement, which provides for a shortened limitations period as follows: LIMITATION: Seller and Brokerage Firm agree that any and all claims or lawsuits between the parties relating to this agreement must be filed no more than six (6) months after the date of termination of this agreement. The parties waive any statute of limitations to the contrary. The listing agreement expired on April 15, 2016; accordingly, the limitation period expired six months later, on October 15, 2016.

The main goal in interpreting a contract is to honor the parties’ intent as discerned from the words used in the contract. An unambiguous contractual provision providing for a shortened period of limitations is to be enforced as written unless the provision would violate law or public policy.

Trial court enforced the contractually shortened period of limitations by granting defendants’ motion for summary disposition.

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REAL ESTATE 36: Plaintiff argued that her claim was not time-barred because it did not accrue until the grandmother’s death.

Plaintiff’s interest in the subject property is best characterized as a remainder estate, because her right to possession of the property was postponed until the occurrence of a specific contingency, that being the deaths of the grandparents. Plaintiff pursued this action within the 15-year limitation period; accordingly, this action is not barred by MCL 600.5801(4).

LITIGATION 6: The terms of the agreement prevails over the course of performance.

The trial court determined that under the UCC, the express terms of the parties’ agreements prevailed over the course of their performance and course of dealing. Although a course of performance may show that parties have waived a specific contractual term under MCL 440.1303(6), the statute does not similarly provide that a course of dealing may demonstrate waiver.

PROBATE 27: Petitioner filed a petition for mental-health treatment.

In support of the allegations, petitioner attached clinical certificates from a physician and a psychiatrist who observed respondent at the hospital. Both doctors diagnosed respondent with bipolar disorder, determined that she displayed a likelihood of injuring herself and that she did not understand the need for treatment, and recommended a course of treatment that consisted of 60 days of hospitalization and 90 days of outpatient care.

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REAL ESTATE 32: Plaintiffs and defendants executed a second easement.

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Defendants completed the project. Plaintiff did not pay for any of the costs of the project. Defendants moved to compel plaintiff to pay one-half of the costs under the agreement. Plaintiff responded that defendants had materially breached the agreement in several ways, including by denying her the right to supervise the project, by refusing to give her an installation schedule, and by starting work before plaintiff approved of the start date.

FAMILY LAW 30: Discretionary trust assets cannot be reached to satisfy claims for child support and alimony.

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