In Residential Funding Co v Saurman, 490 Mich 909; 805 NW2d 183 (2011), the firm successfully represented Michigan Realtors® in support of real estate brokers and agents on issues relating generally to the interpretation of Michigan’s foreclosure laws. The case established important legal principles under Michigan’s foreclosure by advertisement and redemption laws and the voidability of allegedly defective foreclosure sales.
In Price v High Pointe Oil Co, Inc, 493 Mich 238; 828 NW2d 660 (2013), the firm filed Amicus Curiae Motions and Briefs on behalf of Michigan Realtors® and the Home Builders Association of Michigan in support of Defendant High Pointe Oil Company on the issue of whether noneconomic damages can be awarded as a result of the negligent destruction of real property. The Supreme Court granted the Realtors® and Home Builders Amicus status and ruled in favor of the position they supported. Specifically, the Michigan Supreme Court refused to expand Michigan’s common law to allow recovery of damages for mental anguish purportedly stemming from the negligent injury to real property. The Supreme Court relied on many of the same policy reasons advanced by the Realtors® and Home Builders.
In Menard, Inc v City of Escanaba, 315 Mich App 512; 891 NW2d 1 (2016), lv denied, 501 Mich 899 (2017), the firm represented Michigan Realtors® in proceedings before the Supreme Court on issues relating to the taxation of “big box” stores such as Menards. The case involved the elevation of basic, yet significant, appraisal concepts such as highest and best use, the use of true comparables, and the use of the cost‑less‑depreciation method of valuation over the “Dark Store” theory of valuation promoted by Menards and other big box store chains. The Court of Appeals had reversed the errant decision of the Tax Tribunal and remanded the case to the Tribunal, instructing it to utilize a valuation approach that is most accurate. Menards sought leave in the Supreme Court, asking that the Court reverse the Court of Appeals. The Michigan Realtors® opposed the Application. The Supreme Court ultimately denied the application.
In McCourt v Fowler, 2017 WL 1206689 (2017), lv denied, 501 Mich 881 (2017), the firm represented the defendant property owner, its manager, and others against plaintiff’s derivative action alleging membership oppression under Michigan’s Revised Uniform Limited Partnership Act (RULPA). The specific issue involved RULPA’s requirement that in order to bring a derivative action, the plaintiff must be a partner at the time of bringing the action. In this case, the partnership had been dissolved prior to the time the plaintiff had filed suit. The trial court granted summary disposition in favor of defendants, and the Court of Appeals affirmed that ruling. The Supreme Court denied plaintiff’s Application for Leave to Appeal.
In Clam Lake Twp v Dep’t of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs/State Boundary Comm’n, 500 Mich 362; 902 NW2d 293 (2017), the firm represented Michigan Realtors® on the issue of the validity of agreements entered into between local units of government for the conditional transfer of real property for economic development (425 Agreements) and, more specifically, the impact of zoning provisions on their validity. The Court of Appeals had invalidated a 425 Agreement as being against public policy by dictating zoning for property transferred in the agreement. In a unanimous opinion, the Supreme Court reversed, finding that Michigan’s Act 425 authorizes local units of government such as townships to provide for zoning ordinances in their conditional land transfer agreements.
In Breakey v Dep’t of Treasury, __ Mich App __, 2018 WL 2746431 (2018), the firm represented Mrs. Breakey in both the Tax Tribunal and the Court of Appeals after the Department of Treasury (Treasury) retroactively revoked her principal residence exemption (PRE) for the current and prior three years. After contesting the denial, Mrs. Breakey discovered that she was one of a number of similarly situated taxpayers affected by Treasury’s new position that possession of a home by a life beneficiary of a trust disqualifies it for PRE status. The Tax Tribunal upheld Treasury’s revocation and denial of Mrs. Breakey’s PRE. The Court of Appeals, in a published opinion, reversed the Tax Tribunal. The Court held that Mrs. Breakey qualified as the “owner” of the property for purposes of the PRE statute as the life beneficiary of the trust which was the record title owner of the residence. Treasury did not appeal the decision to the Supreme Court. The Court of Appeals opinion requires Treasury to modify its policy on trusts to conform to the statute.