Michigan Supreme Court Concludes Judgment Entered on Motion is a “Verdict” Sufficient to Invoke Case Evaluation Awards and Costs Provision of Michigan Court Rules

Yesterday, in Acorn Investment Co v. Michigan Basic Property Insurance, the Michigan Supreme Court issued an opinion clarifying a point that has been in contention for quite some time regarding the meaning of the term “verdict” under Michigan Court Rule (MCR) 2.403(O), for purposes of determining when a trial court may issue an award of case evaluation sanctions and costs.

MCR 2.403(O)(1) requires a court to award actual costs when an opposing party rejects a case evaluation, the action proceeds to verdict, and the verdict is less favorable to the rejecting party than the case evaluation.

This case originated when the plaintiff made a claim with its insurer under a fire insurance policy to recover insurance proceeds for property damages resulting from a fire on the plaintiff’s property.  The insurer disputed the claim and did not pay.  The plaintiff filed suit and the case was submitted to case evaluation.  Case evaluation resulted in an award of $11,000 to the plaintiff.  The plaintiff accepted the award, but the insurer rejected it.  Then, the plaintiff invoked a policy provision that the loss be set by appraisal.  The appraisal determined the claim was worth $20,877.  The plaintiff then filed a motion in the circuit court for entry of a judgment, with interest, actual costs, and case evaluation sanctions.  The trial court entered judgment, but refused to award costs and debris-removal expenses under the policy.  The Court of Appeals affirmed and the plaintiff appealed arguing that the MCR 2.403(O)(1) required a court to award actual costs when an opposing party rejects a case evaluation.

In this case, the parties agreed that the insurer rejected the initial case evaluation and that the appraisal panel’s award was less favorable to the insurer than the initial case evaluation.

The Court held that the remaining requirement, that the action “proceed to verdict,” was satisfied. Under MCR 2.403(O)(2)(c), the definition of “verdict” includes “a judgment entered as a result of a ruling on a motion after rejection of the case evaluation.”

In this case, the action proceeded to a judgment entered as a result of a ruling on a motion when the circuit court granted the plaintiff’s motion for entry of judgment and interest.

For more than a century, Lacey & Jones has distinguished itself from other law firms by maintaining a robust Appeals and Legal Research Group.  Effective appellate representation demands different skills than those required by litigation attorneys.  Our appellate attorneys are adept at analyzing the intricacies of each case from an objective and critical perspective.  From reviewing and preparing the lower court record, identifying appealable errors, and developing a strategy to raise issues that will be addressed by appellate courts, our seasoned appellate team is capable of handling the most complex appeals from the application stage to oral advocacy before the highest courts.  Our research abilities and knowledge of current issues in nearly all major subject-matter areas of the law provide our clients with efficient and immediate assistance with complex and high-exposure cases.

We are experienced at navigating through all appellate courts to shepherd the appeal in the most expeditious fashion possible so that it can be reviewed and quickly ruled upon.

During the last three decades alone, the Appeals and Legal Research Group at Lacey & Jones has been responsible for over 150 published decisions, including seminal decisions in workers’ compensation, governmental immunity, employment and labor law, civil rights law and insurance coverage.  Because of its specialized knowledge and focus on appellate law and its recognized expertise, the Appeals and Legal Research Group at Lacey & Jones has been asked to participate as amicus curiae writing briefs for the Supreme Court or as special counsel to the Michigan Attorney General and other governmental entities in some of the most significant cases in the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court.   Below are some of the recent significant cases in which Lacey & Jones, LLP’s Appeals and Legal Research Group has participated.

  • Estate of Truett v. Wayne County (Court of Appeals Docket No. 313638 (May 6, 2014)
  • Yono v. MDOT, ___ Mich. App. ___ (201_), amicus curiae brief to be filed after remand for Michigan Municipal League, et al., by Carson J. Tucker
  • Omian v. Chrysler Group, LLC, 495 Mich. 859 (2013), application filed by Carson J. Tucker, Supreme Court remand to Court of Appeals on leave granted
  • Ghanam v. John Does, 303 Mich. App. 522 (2013), application to appeal filed in Supreme Court by Carson J. Tucker
  • State Farm v. MMRMA, ___ Mich App ___ (2013), amicus curiae for Oakland County in support of MMRMA application, by Carson J. Tucker
  • Hannay v MDOT, ___ Mich ___ 201_), application granted, amicus curiae filed for Michigan Townships Association, Macomb County, Oakland County and Wayne County, et al., by Carson J. Tucker
  • Yono v. MDOT, ___ Mich ___ (201_), oral argument on application granted, amicus curiae for Oakland, Macomb and Wayne County filed by Carson J. Tucker in support of the state’s application
  • Huddleston v. Trinity Health, et al., 495 Mich. 976 (2014), oral argument on application granted, amicus curiae with Lawrence Garcia, Esq., for MDTC
  • Ashley, LLC v Pittsfield Twp., 494 Mich 875 (2013), application granted, for Pittsfield Township by Carson J. Tucker (resolved by settlement)
  • Bailey v. Schaaf, ___ Mich ___ (2013), amicus curiae for MDTC by Carson J. Tucker
  • Atkins v. SMART, 492 Mich 707 (2012), oral argument on application, Court of Appeals case reversed by opinion, Carson J. Tucker
  • Hagerty v Manistee, 493 Mich 933 (2013), amicus curiae for Michigan Municipal League, et al., by Carson J. Tucker
  • McMurtrie v Eaton Corp, 490 Mich 976 (2011)
  • Findley v DaimlerChrysler Corp., 490 Mich 928 (2011)
  • Brewer v. AD.Transport Express, Inc, 486 Mich 50 (2010)
  • Stokes v Chrysler, 481 Mich 266 (2008)
  • Brackett v Focus Hope, Inc, 482 Mich 269 (2008)
  • Rakestraw v Gen Dynamics, 469 Mich 220 (2003)

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