Real Property and Water Rights Appeals

Consens v Bale, Washtenaw County Circuit Court, 2014

Plaintiff leased her upscale home to defendants with an option to renew. The lease included a "chronic late payment" clause entitling the landlord to terminate the lease. The tenants were chronically late and damaged the property but refused to leave despite notice. to quit The district court held that the ate payment provision violated the Michigan Consumer Protection Act (MCPA) and that, therefore, plaintiff had no basis to deny the defendants' right to renew, that plaintiff was not entitled to holdover rents, and that plaintiff was required to pay damages and attorney fees under the MCPA. The circuit court reversed the trial court's ruling regarding the damages and attorney fees under the MCPA and held that defendants required to pay plaintiff the increased holdover rents required by the lease.

Bechtol v Allen, Michigan Court of Appeals, No. 307716 (2013) 

My client's neighbors reconfigured their property causing water to flood to her farm. She installed several culverts to assist with the flow of water across her property.  Her neighbors sued, claiming that her culverts had caused the flooding that predated her installation of the culverts.  The trial court ordered my client to remove all culverts but one, virtually guaranteeing continued flooding of my client's property, and ordered that she be personally liable for any obstruction of the waterflow into the future ad infinitum regardless of whether she continued to own the property. My client hired this office to appeal the order.  The Michigan Court of Appeals vacated the trial court's injunction and, on remand, the circuit court adopted the injunction proposed by my client in its entirety allowing her to keep all of the culverts she had installed, thereby rescuing her property from constant flooding


Thaden v Gorinac, Michigan Court of Appeals, No. 299036 (2011)

Appellants owned a two-thirds interest in a lakefront summer cottage in which they had invested approximately $100,000.00. The remaining one-third interest was owned by Appellees, Appellants' aunt and uncle, who also owned the adjacent cottage. Appellees consistently refused to pay their portion of the expenses for the jointly owned cottage whereupon Appellants filed an action for partition. The trial court ordered a public auction of the property in lieu of partition but prohibited the parties from participating in the auction and from using the property. Appellants challenged the restrictions on their participation in the auction and the trial court's imposition of an easement benefitting appellees' adjacent property. The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s exclusion of the plaintiffs from participation in the auction and vacated the imposition of the easement.

Collins Family Trust v Taylor, et al., COA 300510 (2010)

In lieu of granting the application for leave to appeal, the Court of Appeals peremptorily vacated the circuit court's order affirming the district court which had granting third-party defendants’ motion for summary disposition.  The Court of Appeals reversed because the amount in controversy in those claims exceeded the district court’s jurisdictional limit and holding that although the jurisdiction issue was not raised below, a challenge to subject matter jurisdiction may be raised at any time, even if raised for the first time on appeal. The district court’s order was therefore, void ab initio.


Jackson v Estate of Green, ___ Mich ___ (2009)

Plaintiff, Mrs. Jackson and defendant, Mr. Green, held two parcels of real estate as joint tenants and a series of oral loans were made by Mrs. Jackson to defendant. The trial court ruled that Green possessed a valid property interest in the two parcels of land despite uncontested evidence that they had been purchased and paid for by Jackson, that she had paid all taxes on the property. and that his name had been used on the deeds merely as a temporary expedient. Mrs. Jackson appealed and, while the appeal was pending, Mtr. Green sought to partition the properties. The partition action was stayed pending the appeal and Mr. Green unfortunately died before the appeal was resolved.

The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's ruling that Green possessed a valid property interest in two parcels of land but held that because no order severing the joint tenancy had yet been issued in the partition action, Green's interests in the parcels reverted to Mrs. Jackson upon defendant's death. Mr Green’s estate sought leave to appeal in the Michigan Supreme Court which affirmed the Court of Appeals’ decision on the issue of partition. Green's estate had no interest in the property once he died, and even if his partition action survived his death under Michigan's survival statute, MCL 600.2921, nothing remained to partition given that his interest had automatically reverted to Mrs. Jackson immediately upon his death. The filing of the partition action did not sever the joint tenancy because an order effectuating a partition had not been entered at the time of defendant's death.

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