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Holding that a genuine issue of material fact existed as to which party breached the contract, the court reversed the trial court's order granting the plaintiffs summary disposition and remanded for further proceedings.

The parties entered into a purchase agreement for the defendants to sell the plaintiffs a parcel of land in exchange for $101,000 and a 1950 pickup truck. The trial court found that defendants wrongfully retained possession of the truck after the land purchase agreement fell through. It awarded plaintiffs the value of the truck ($30,075). An "essential element of a breach of contract claim is that the other party breached the contract." The parties disputed who breached the contract-plaintiffs asserted the defendants did "by failing to disclose material facts about the property," and the defendants asserted the plaintiffs "breached it by wrongfully refusing to purchase the property. The parties' motions presented opposing evidence on whether the property was located in a flood plain." Thus, "reasonable minds could differ" as to who breached the contract. Further, even "had the trial court properly granted summary disposition, its remedy was improper." It stated its intent to return the parties to their status quo, which implicated rescission. Rescission "is warranted where there is 'a material breach affecting a substantial or essential part of the contract.'" A trial court "should consider a variety of factors before granting" rescission. The trial court "gave no reason for imposing rescission rather than general contractual damages." The only testimony at the hearing on damages "regarded the value of the truck, leaving the trial court's decision to rescind the contract unsupported. Additionally, a proper rescission restores both parties to their precontractual positions-that is, a rescission would return the truck" to plaintiffs, while the real property remained with defendants. To require defendants "to essentially purchase the truck" from plaintiffs at FMV for "breaching a purchase agreement would be a highly unusual remedy, and the trial court must provide a legal justification for this remedy on remand if it intends to impose it." 

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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What to Look for in a Criminal Defense Attorney

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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.

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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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