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LITIGATION 5: The trial court properly relied on defense counsel’s representation because an attorney speaks for his client.

This appeal arises from damage that occurred to plaintiff’s property in Highland Park and the parties’ subsequent agreement to settle plaintiff’s inverse condemnation claim. The parties placed the terms of the settlement on the record, agreeing that the settlement was for $10,000 subject to City Council approval as are all municipal settlements.

Generally, only the city council can bind a municipal corporation to a contract.

Several months later, plaintiff moved for entry of a consent judgment pursuant to MCR 2.602(B)(4). Although defense counsel objected to entry of the order, he reported to the trial court that the city council approved the settlement.

The trial court then entered an order settling the consent judgment, which stated that the parties stipulated, on the record, to settle plaintiff’s inverse condemnation claim for $10,000, and that the settlement was approved by defendant’s city council.

Defendant filed a motion for reconsideration and argued that the consent judgment did not comport with the parties’ agreement. The trial court denied defendant’s motion for reconsideration because it determined that the parties agreed to the terms of the consent judgment on the record.

Defendant first argues that the trial court abused its discretion because the city council did not approve the settlement agreement before the trial court’s entry of the consent judgment.

Defense counsel’s agreement to the settlement at the settlement conference did not bind defendant to the terms of the agreement because, at that point, defendant’s city council had not approved the settlement agreement.  However, at the subsequent hearing, defense counsel reported to the trial court that defendant’s city council had approved the settlement. The trial court properly relied on defense counsel’s representation because an attorney speaks for his client.

Despite acknowledging approval by defendant’s city council, defense counsel also stated that we don’t know the terms of it. The unknown terms appear to only involve whether the judgment would be paid periodically or from the tax rolls. The trial court stated that, however defendant decides to pay it, it agreed to pay the amount of the judgment. We agree that the ambiguity regarding the timing of the payment or payments does not negate the fact that defendant’s city council approved the settlement amount.

Because the trial court relied on defense counsel’s statement that defendant’s city council approved the settlement agreement, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by entering the consent judgment.

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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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FAMILY LAW 32: Trial court committed error in failing to address whether there was an established custodial environment.

On appeal, plaintiff argues that the trial court failed to make any findings regarding (1) the child’s established custodial environment, (2) the child’s best interests regarding the grant of primary physical custody to defendant, (3) the child’s best interests with respect to parenting time, and (4) the child’s best interests pertaining to the parties’ dispute over daycare.

PROBATE 25: Daughter removed as personal representative of the estate.

the probate court determined that Daughter J had managed the estate in a manner that promoted her own interests as a beneficiary over the interests of the estate. The probate court found that such management demonstrated mismanagement of the estate and that removal of Daughter J was therefore in the best interests of the estate.

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

Plaintiffs requested that the trial court, either through reformation of the First Easement or interpretation of the Second Easement, quiet title in favor of plaintiffs and declare them to be the owners of an easement to access Lake Superior through the ravine on defendants’ property, enjoin defendants from interfering with their use of the easement, and order compensation for damages to the stairs.

LITIGATION 4: Plaintiff claimed installation of hardwood flooring breached the condo bylaws.

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.

The key difference between discretionary trusts, support trusts, and spendthrift trusts is that creditors cannot compel the trustee of a discretionary trust to pay any part of the income or principal in order that the creditors may be paid. The opposite is true of spendthrift and support trusts, which allow trust assets to be reached to satisfy creditors, including creditors seeking to satisfy claims for child support and alimony.

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FAMILY LAW 29: Quitclaim deed signed after prenuptial agreement prevails.

The court ruled that title to the land prevails and that once the deed was signed, the property became the undivided whole interest for both the decedent and appellee and became appellee’s property upon the decedent’s death. Consequently, the court concluded that the prenuptial agreement did not have any impact on the property rights of appellee in this case.

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