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Landowners were entitled to challenge the establishment of a drainage district in the county on constitutional & statutory grounds

The court affirmed in part and reversed in part an order granting summary disposition in favor of respondents-Oakland County, the OCWRC, and the county's Water Resource Commissioner in this petition for writ of certiorari challenging the establishment of a drainage district on constitutional and statutory grounds. It remanded for further proceedings, consistent with MCL 280.161, as to the allegations that one of the members of the board of determination (G) had a pecuniary interest in the drain and that the final order of determination was premature. Petitioners argued that the trial court erred in determining that their claims were barred by collateral estoppel. The court agreed in part. "The bulk of the issues" raised here were "identical to the issues raised in the federal complaint and incorporated by the property owners in the condemnation action." The issues in Counts I, II, and III of this complaint, which were "identical to the federal complaint, were actually litigated in the condemnation action." But the claims as to G "(Counts II and III) and the final order of determination (Count IV)" were not raised previously, and thus could not have been actually litigated in the condemnation action. The trial court erred by granting summary disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(7) as to those issues. Petitioners argued that in granting respondents summary disposition on the basis of collateral estoppel, the trial court violated MCL 280.161, which they asserted required it to conduct an evidentiary hearing. However, "the issues in the federal complaint were raised previously in the condemnation action and were resolved at that time; no questions of fact remained." Thus, any argument that an evidentiary hearing was required to take testimony regarding the same issues in this action was "meritless under the plain language of MCL 280.161." But, according to the petition, issues of fact remained as to G's pecuniary interest in the drain and the final order of determination. "Accepting the factual allegations in the complaint as true and drawing inferences in a light most favorable to petitioners, summary disposition on these two issues would not have been appropriate" under respondents' alternative ground for summary disposition, MCR 2.116(C)(8). 

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