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Lech v. Huntmore Estates Condominium Ass'n

Court of Appeals of Michigan

April 16, 2015

RONALD W. LECH II, Plaintiff/Counterdefendant-Appellee/Cross-Appellant,
v.
HUNTMORE ESTATES CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION, Defendant/Counterplaintiff, and JACOBSON ORE CREEK LAND DEVELOPMENT, L.L.C., and SCOTT R. JACOBSON, d/b/a S.R. JACOBSON LAND DEVELOPMENT, L.L.C., Defendants-Appellants/Cross-Appellees

Livingston Circuit Court. LC No. 08-024045-CH.

For RONALD W II LECH, PLAINTIFF-COUNTER DEFENDANT-APPELLEE-CROSS APPELLANT: RICHARD D BISIO, TROY, MI.

For HUNTMORE ESTATES CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION, DEFENDANT-COUNTER PLAINTIFF: STEPHEN M GUERRA, FARMINGTON HILLS, MI.

For JACOBSON ORE CREEK LAND DEVELOPMENT LLC, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT-CROSS APPELLEE: DANIEL P FEINBERG, FRANKLIN, MI.

Before: O'CONNELL, P.J., and FORT HOOD and GADOLA, JJ.

OPINION

O'Connell, P.J.

Defendants, Jacobson Or. Creek Land Development, LLC, and Scott R. Jacobson (collectively " the developers" ), appeal as of right the trial court's order denying the developers' request for appellate costs and attorney fees. Plaintiff, Ronald W. Lech II, cross-appeals as of right the trial court's order granting judgment interest on the developers' costs in trial court. We affirm the trial court's decision to exclude appellate attorney fees and costs from its offer of judgment sanctions under MCR 2.405 because such costs are not incurred as a result of a party's decision to reject an offer of judgment, but we reverse the trial court's decision to award the developers judgment interest under MCL 600.6013.

I. BACKGROUND FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

In December 2008, Lech filed a complaint against the developers and Huntmore Estates Condominium Association in which he alleged claims of slander of title, violation of the Michigan condominium act, and tortious interference with a business relationship. On June 10, 2009, the developers filed an offer of judgment for $5000. Lech effectively rejected the offer by failing to respond to it within 21 days. See MCR 2.405(C)(2)(b).

The trial court later granted summary disposition to the developers and awarded them attorney fees under MCR 2.405 because of Lech's refusal of the offer of judgment. After Lech appealed, a panel of this Court reversed the trial court's grant of summary disposition on some of Lech's claims. Lech v Huntmore Estates Condo Ass'n, unpublished opinion per curiam of the Court of Appeals, issued October 6, 2011 (Docket Nos. 296489 and 297196). The developers appealed in the Michigan Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court reversed this Court's decision, reinstated the trial court's grant of summary disposition, and remanded for this Court to consider Lech's sanctions issue. Lech v Huntmore Estates Condo Ass'n, 491 Mich. 937; 815 N.W.2d 127, modified on reconsideration 493 Mich. 921, 823 N.W.2d 567 (2012). On remand, this Court determined that the trial court calculated the offer of judgment sanctions from an incorrect date and remanded to the trial court for a new calculation. Lech v Huntmore Estates Condo Ass'n (On Remand), unpublished opinion per curiam of the Court of Appeals, issued August 6, 2013 (Docket No. 297196), p 5.

On remand, the parties stipulated to reduce the trial court's sanctions award to $36,337.90, but disputed whether the developers were entitled to judgment interest or attorney fees that the developers incurred as a result of the appeals. The trial court relied on Haliw v Sterling Hts, 471 Mich. 700, 711; 691 N.W.2d 753 (2005), in which the Michigan Supreme Court held that actual costs for case evaluation sanctions under MCR 2.403 do not include appellate attorney fees, and the trial court determined that the developers were not entitled to appellate attorney fees under MCR 2.405. But the trial court determined that the developers were entitled to statutory judgment interest under MCL 600.6013, and it awarded the developers $5,230.16 in interest.

II. STANDARDS OF REVIEW

This Court reviews de novo the interpretation and application of statutes. McCormick v Carrier, 487 Mich. 180, 188; 795 N.W.2d 517 (2010). We also review de novo the interpretation and application of our court rules. In reMcCarrick/Lamoreaux, 307 Mich.App. 436, 445, 861 N.W.2d 303 (2014). We use the same rules of interpretation to interpret statutes and court rules. Id. at 446. We give the words of rules and statutes their plain and ordinary meanings. Id. See also McCormick, 487 Mich. at 192. We construe legal terms according to their legal meanings. See Feyz v Mercy Mem Hosp, 475 Mich. 663, 673; 719 N.W.2d 1 (2006). We determine the intent of the ...


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