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Construction contract arbitration award upheld

In this construction contract case, the trial court did not err by denying the plaintiffs' motion to vacate or modify the arbitration award and, thus, did not err by granting the defendants-lien claimants and defendant-contractor (Bosco) summary disposition. The parties' payment dispute went to arbitration and resulted in an award for Bosco. Plaintiffs sued Bosco and the subcontractors, the lien claimants. The trial court denied the plaintiffs' motion to set aside the arbitration award, and they stipulated to dismiss their civil conspiracy and slander of title claims. As an initial matter, the court determined that it had jurisdiction over the claims in the appeal and that the plaintiffs had not waived their right to appeal by satisfying the judgment. Even though the appeal was untimely, the court chose to address it "to promote judicial efficiency and clearly dispose of these issues." The court rejected the plaintiffs' claim that the arbitration award should be vacated because the arbitrators exceeded their powers. Neither was there evidence that Bosco committed an anticipatory breach where there was no "unequivocal declaration of nonperformance to plaintiffs." Also, because the arbitration award was upheld, the trial court did not err by granting the lien claimants and Bosco summary disposition. Defendant-TM Wood was properly granted summary disposition because the UCC applied to plaintiffs' claims of defective workmanship and the "plaintiffs failed to provide TM Wood notice of the alleged defective goods within a reasonable time pursuant to MCL 440.2607(3)(a) . . . ." The trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying Bosco attorney fees under the CLA because even though Bosco was the prevailing party, a fee award under MCL 570.1118(2) is discretionary. Although the trial court did not "specifically reference" MCL 600.2591 and MCR 2.114, the court rejected Bosco's claim that the trial court failed to address its claim under these provisions. Further, "[t]here was no evidence that it was plaintiffs' intent to harass, embarrass, or injure Bosco." The court upheld the attorney fees awarded to the lien claimants, finding that the trial court correctly determined that they were the "prevailing party" under the CLA and that they presented evidence to support the reasonableness of the hours expended. The trial court's decision to reduce the fees was supported by expert testimony and was not an abuse of discretion. Affirmed.

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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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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